UFC 103 is headlined by the return of former UFC champion, Vitor Belfort. Belfort matches up against another former champ and The Ultimate Fighter coach, Rich Franklin. The future of the UFC middleweight division may be decided on Saturday night. A win by Belfort will no doubt put him at the head of the line for Anderson Silva.
Make no mistake about it, this fight is set up for Belfort to win. Franklin is someone Belfort should easily beat. As a former UFC middleweight champion, the win would give Belfort instant credibility with UFC fans. This is the ideal matchup for a returning hero in Belfort. The only question remains is whether Vitor Belfort UFC circa 1997 shows up or Vitor UFC circa 2005.
Belfort loves to attack fast. Belfort is a striker with 12 knockouts. I can’t remember the last time I ever saw Rich Franklin win a slugfest. Franklin played a tremendous counter-strike game against Silva at UFC 99. Belfort is faster than Silva and will attack. Franklin’s only chance is to take Belfort to the ground and tire him out. Belfort is vulnerable on the ground and Franklin could pull off the upset if that is his game plan.
The stakes are huge for UFC. Dana White signed Vitor Belfort back with intentions of booking a UFC middleweight title fight against Anderson Silva. This fight at UFC 103 will be at a catch weight of 195. Not only will Belfort lose a ton of appeal with a loss Saturday, but White will be forced to make a match nobody wants to see. White would have to make Franklin-Anderson Silva III. By all rights, Franklin deserves it with a win but I can tell you that I have zero interest in seeing that fight.
My prediction is a win for Vitor Belfort. Belfort’s last win was an explosive knockout over Matt Lindland in January. Matt Lindland is no joke and at one time was a number one ranked fighter in some circles. Belfort has looked reborn in his last four fights and hasn’t lost since 2006. I predict a Belfort win, TKO, one round and Franklin goes down.
Interestingly enough, Vegas currently has Franklin as the favorite. Bodog.com has Franklin at -145 while BetUs.com has Franklin at -140. I am not a betting man but if I was, I’d run to grab those lines. This is definitely a fight I don’t see Vegas getting right.
Frank Trigg returns to the UFC after a very lengthy absence. Trigg returns to face The Ultimate Fighter alumni Josh Koscheck. At 37, I don’t think Trigg is going to be able to hang with Koscheck. Trigg was tapping back in 2005 when he was 33 years old. I just think Koshcheck is too quick for Trigg. Koshcheck is a huge favorite at -500 at Bodog.com and -400 at BetUs.com. Trigg is a +300 at both places. At +300, Trigg may not be a bad bet for an upset. Rarely do all favorites win on UFC events.
The entire scheduled UFC 103 fight card is…
Vitor Belfort vs. Rich Franklin
Junior Dos Santos vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic
Martin Kampmann vs. Paul Daley
Josh Koscheck vs. Frank Trigg
Hermes Franca vs. Tyson Griffin
Efrain Escudero vs. Cole Miller
Jim Miller vs. Steve Lopez
Rafaello Oliveira Vs. Nik Lentz
Rick Story vs. Brian Foster
Tomasz Drwal vs. Drew McFedries
Jason Brilz vs. Eliot Marshall
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Igor Pokrajac
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rob Emerson
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