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UFC 126 Betting Preview: Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort

Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort headline UFC 126Hey everyone, for those of you who followed my advice on Timothy Bradley last weekend in Detroit, congratulations on a tidy pay day. Unfortunately our bet on the over didn’t work out, since Alexander decided that he wanted to quit after an accidental head-butt. But, if you were watching the fight, you saw that it was destined for the judge’s scorecards and our over 11.5 rounds would have been money in the bank.

This weekend we turn to the world of Mixed Martial Arts, as industry leaders the Ultimate Fighting Championships bring another action packed card to Pay Per View. From the sold out Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, the UFC brings an 11–fight card with plenty of opportunities to lay your money down. We’ll take an in-depth look at the main event of the night, as UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, defends his crown against Vitor Belfort. (For picks and predictions for the entire fight card, check out my article at MyManCave

When: Saturday February 5th, 2011
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Live on Pay Per View, Main Card beginning at 10:00 PM EST
The Fight: UFC Middleweight Championship Fight (5 Rounds)

Current Available Betting Lines
Anderson Silva (-275) / Vitor Belfort (+215)
Total Rounds = 2½ – Over 2½ Rounds (+115) / Under 2½ Rounds (-145)

Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort Fight Preview

This fight is a highly anticipated match -up between two Brazilian MMA Superstars. The fight has gotten a lot of attention from the Brazilian media which bodes well for the UFC’s upcoming trip to Brazil later in the year. Fans have been clamoring for this match up since the debacle in Abu Dhabi when the champion Silva danced around and toyed with Demian Maia for five rounds, which made fans irate. They have been calling for Silva’s head, calling for a match against someone who can go toe to toe with the Brazilian champion and in Belfort they have likely found that match.

The fight itself has been building for nearly a year. Belfort was actually supposed to face Anderson Silva in the fight in Abu Dhabi at UFC 112. However, he injured himself in training and the injury required surgery, which caused a long layoff. Belfort hasn’t fought since UFC 103 in September of 2009, a layoff of over a year. Understandably, ring rust may be a bit of a concern for the challenger.

The champion however has riled off two wins in the span since he was supposed to fight Belfort. The aforementioned “Dance in the Desert” in Abu Dhabi, which ended in a lopsided Unanimous Decision win for Silva. As well as most recently a come from behind Submission victory in the fifth round in a fight he was clearly losing. These two Brazilians have one recent opponent in common and that is former Middleweight Champion Rich “Ace” Franklin. Both fighters defeated Franklin, Belfort by TKO in the first round, and Anderson by a KO in the first and a TKO in the second round (Silva fought Franklin twice.)

Fighter Analysis: Challenger Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort

Vitor Belfort is a Brazilian fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, who recently returned to the UFC after a hiatus of several years in other fight promotions. He is currently the #6 Ranked Middleweight fighter in the World according to Sherdog.com He hasn’t fought since September 2009, a TKO victory over former Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin, a fight that earned him a shot at Anderson Silva’s Middleweight Title.

Belfort stands at 6’0” tall and has an approximate reach of 74.0 inches. He has a strong background in Boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo. He is mainly a Southpaw fighter, preferring to fight left-handed in a traditional boxing stance. Belfort has a career record of 19-8, with 13 of those wins coming by way of TKO or KO. Belfort turned pro at the young age of 19, and was immediately thrust into the spotlight after an impressive string of highlight reel knockouts. Belfort has a strong background in BJJ, but prefers to use his boxing and stand up skills to win him fights, preferring to slug it out on the feet rather than take the fight to the mat.

Although originally from Brazil, Vitor now lives and trains in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to tracked statistics on UFC.com he has a 52% Striking success rate, landing 115 strikes of 220 attempted. On the ground Belfort has a 75% success rate in take down percentage, but has a very low number of only 8 attempts. Belfort throws a lot of power in his strikes and has stopped many an opponent in the first round, but he has been known to fade a little bit or quit in fights, if things don’t go his way. He is entering this contest with a lot of momentum as he is currently riding a five fight winning streak and hasn’t lost since October 2006.

Fighter Analysis: Champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva

Anderson Silva is the reigning and defending UFC Middleweight Champion. He is a Brazilian fighter from Curitiba Brazil. Silva fights out of the famous Black Hand Training Camp, a camp that includes fighters like Lyoto Machida, The Nogueira Brothers and Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Rafael Cavalcante. Silva has experience in several different martial arts, including Black belts in Judo, Tae Kwan Do and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Silva has a career record of 27-4, with 15 wins via Knockout or TKO and 5 wins via Submission. He is currently on a 13 fight winning streak, and is the record holder for the longest winning streak in the UFC which currently stands at 12. Silva is an extremely well-rounded fighter, who possesses arguably the best striking ability in MMA. His striking is extremely accurate and his Muay Thai skills in the clinch are extremely vicious. His ability to counter-strike effectively and bob and weave quickly has left many of his opponents frustrated and subsequently unconscious.

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Anderson stands 6’2” tall and has a reach of approximately 78 inches. He will enjoy a sizable reach advantage in this fight, which should help with his counter punching style. He is able to transition seamlessly from an Orthodox to Southpaw stance as it suits his needs in a fight, which is another method he uses to keep his opponents guessing and off-balance. According to Fight Metric stats kept at UFC.com Anderson has an incredible 68% success rate in striking, landing 392 of an attempted 573 strikes. Anderson has an impressive take down percentage of 75% although in his career he has gone for only 4 take downs. Anderson also owns some of the best defensive stats in the UFC. He is able to avoid 63% of strikes thrown at him, and has also avoided 80% of take downs attempted on him (a number that was much higher prior to his last fight against wrestling standout Chael Sonnen.)

Match Up Advantages

Striking Offense: Anderson Silva
Striking Defense: Anderson Silva
Striking Power: Vitor Belfort
Takedowns: Vitor Belfort
Submission Offense: Anderson Silva
Submission Defense: EVEN
Fight IQ: Anderson Silva
Heart and Chin: Anderson Silva

Fight Predictions

The current betting line has the champion, Anderson Silva as a -275 favorite. When translating this to a percentage it means that the odds makers are giving Silva a 73.33% chance of winning the fight. The challenger Belfort on the other hand is at the odds of +215, which means he’s being given a 31.75% chance of winning. As you can see the results add up to slightly above 100% which is where the bookies make their money. I think the line on Anderson is a little bit off.

Vitor Belfort is a very game and very dangerous opponent. He has a lot of power in his strikes and any punch that he lands has the ability to change the fight. However, Anderson has an excellent chin and we’ve never really seen him rocked or stunned in a fight. The one weak spot in Anderson’s game has been his wrestling ability and although it’s possible for Belfort to exploit that weakness, it’s unlikely he will. He’s much more likely to try and outbox the champion than grind out a decision with offensive wrestling.

Anderson is an excellent counter puncher, who is extremely agile and extremely fast. Anderson has great footwork and great head movement and has shown a great ability to avoid being hit by other fighters. Silva’s striking is laser-point accurate and any punch or kick that he throws, is likely to connect the way he wants it to. Once Silva smells weakness in opponent he is one of the best finishers in the game. If he hurts Belfort, it won’t take long for him to turn up the pressure and pour the heat on and look for a finish. Another edge that one can find for Silva is that he mixes it up, throwing knees, kicks, elbows, and using the Thai Plume effectively, while Belfort mainly uses his hands and straight boxing ability.

In a straight stand up fight, which I expect this fight will be, I have to give the edge to the champion, Silva. His hand speed combined with his footwork will make him a tough target to hit and will allow him to counter effectively against Belfort, should he choose to move forward. Another large advantage is the “Old” vs. “New” Vitor Belfort argument. In the past, Belfort has been known as a bit of a mental midget, and has quit on himself in fights where things don’t go his way. He hasn’t shown this trait recently, although he hasn’t been put into any tough spots in any of his recent outings. Unless he KO’s Anderson in the first minute or so, it’s likely he’ll find himself in at least one tough spot in this fight.

The other edge that has to go to Anderson is his ability to learn and adapt over the course of a fight. He is able to make adjustments on the fly and mix up his game to keep opponents off-balance, while Belfort prefers a more straightforward type of fight. Belfort has been training with Iron Mike Tyson for this fight, prepping and drilling his boxing, but I don’t think that will help him make any mid-fight adjustments if his strategy doesn’t work right away. We’ve already talked about Vitor’s mental struggles, so one would have to guess that the longer this fight lasts, the more it favors the champion, who is more likely to adapt and become comfortable in the cage, while the challenger will likely become frustrated and tired.

My Pick: I think there is still value on the champion, Anderson “The Spider” Silva at his current market price of -275. I think he’s likely to win this fight somewhere between 75-80% of the time, which means he’s good for a small bet at the current price. I think he has enough tools and the ability to make this fight go the way that he wants it.

As for the Over/Under on the fight, I think the Over is probably the right play. Vitor will come out swinging for the fences like he usually does, but I expect at least a bit of a feeling out process to start the fight. Anderson is never in a rush to get the fight over with, and will explode when he feels the time is right, but won’t rush anything at the expense of making a mistake. I’ve already stated that the longer this fight lasts, the more I believe it favors Silva, so I think he will take his time and pace himself. These factors combined with the fact that you’re getting money (+115) on the over 2½ rounds, makes the over the right pick for a small bet.

Anderson Silva for a small play and the Over 2.5 rounds for a small play.

Lee McGregor is a fan of all combat sports including both Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. When not catching fights or watching hockey, he can be found as an Author and Editor at his own website MyManCave.ca

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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