Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC on FX 7: Belfort vs. Bisping
The recent Anderson Silva saga has been as confusing as ever. Is he going to fight Georges St-Pierre? What happened to Chris Weidman getting the shot? So he is not going up in weight to fight Jon Jones? Well, Dana White put an end to the discussion when he crowned Michael Bisping as next in line for the title. The only issue is that before he can get that shot, he has to win the biggest fight of his career.
The first UFC event of 2013 will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil at the Ibirapuera Arena on January 19th. The headliner will consist of Brazilian superstar Vitor ‘The Phenom’ Belfort as he takes on the aforementioned Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping. The four main card bouts will be aired live on Sportsnet in Canada and FX in the US. The six preliminary bouts will be aired live on Sportsnet One in Canada and Fuel TV in the US. The remaining preliminary bout will be aired live on Facebook.
Vitor Belfort (21-10) vs. Michael Bisping (23-4)
Two of the best Middleweights in the world are about to engage in a stand up battle as former Light-Heavyweight Champion, Vitor Belfort will look to stop Michael Bisping from finally getting a shot at Anderson Silva’s title. Belfort nearly shocked the world when he locked on a Hail Mary armbar in his last fight against Jon Jones and nearly got the submission win. After that, however, Belfort looked pretty lost and confused.
Bisping last fought inside the Octagon against Brian Stann that very same event. It could easily be argued as the most notable victory of his career. His boxing has been crisper as of late and his wrestling has been much improved as he has not only used it for defensive purposes. He has made the effort to get the fight to the ground as a nice strategy to score some points and decrease the cardio of his opponents.
Vitor and Bisping both have underrated wrestling but that is not what people are tuning in to expect. This fight is berserker versus boxer. Vitor will wait for his moments and explode, aiming to knock the head off the Brit’s shoulder. Bisping must do his best changing angles (something Vitor struggles against) and frustrating him with his defensive boxing.
Remember, this is a five round bout and we have all heard the “Vitor’s cardio sucks” talk so we may have an opportunity to witness if it really does against a less physically dominant opponent. Bisping mixes up his abilities well in the cage and will likely show plenty of that against Vitor. However, this is still the same Michael Bisping that was beat by Wanderlei Silva a couple years ago. With the right game plan, it is hard to see Vitor not eventually getting a knockout within the first couple rounds of the bout.
Prediction: Belfort via KO Round 2
Daniel Sarafian (7-2) vs. C.B. Dollaway (12-4)
After a very successful run in the Ultimate Fighter: Brazil came to an abrupt halt because of injury, the original finalist, Danial Sarafian, will get his opportunity to debut for the UFC. He will going up against C.B Dollaway, who is coming off of a definitive, yet, controversial victory against Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller.
This fight has been set up to see where Sarafian’s skills stand against the organization’s lower-tier fighters. That is in no way attempting to disrespect Dollaway, but it is a realistic assessment of a guy that has no wins over fighters that are still in the organization. Dollaway is a solid wrestler but it has not fully translated into the UFC.
Sarafian is a good striker with knockout power as he proved with his finish of Sergio Moraes on the show. His specialty, however, is his excellent Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Six of his seven wins are by submission (though he made one of his opponents tap to strikes) and he has a dominant top game. If he is taken to the ground, Dollaway will have a tough time being able to control him and will likely need to go for a KO finish. Sarafian should be able to get the best of the American wrestler pretty much wherever the fight goes.
Prediction: Sarafian via TKO Round 1
Gabriel Gonzaga (13-6) vs. Ben Rothwell (32-8)
After landing one of the most legendary head kick knockouts of all time, Gabriel Gonzaga has not exactly been impressive. He was cut from the UFC in 2010 but snuck his way back in last year and got back into the win column. He will be going up against Ben Rothwell, who is coming off a huge victory against Brendan Schaub. Both of these massive Heavyweights need a win to prove that they are still able to go up against the UFC’s best.
Prior to his UFC career, Ben Rothwell was one of the better Heavyweights in the world. He was unbeaten for a solid two year span and has a finish in 29 of his 32 wins. His best bet would be to keep the fight on the feet and test the questionable chin of Gonzaga. He is the stronger fighter of the two and will need power to keep the fight upright as best he can.
Gonzaga had a new game plan in his fight against Ednaldo Oliveira. He became too comfortable with standing up with fighters that had the ability to finish him and strayed away from his dominant ground game. If he continues to go back to his roots, he should be able to control Rothwell on the ground and dominate from top position. Rothwell tends to take too much damage and that should not change as long as Gonzaga fights smart.
Prediction: Gonzaga via Arm-Triangle Choke Round 2
Thiago Tavares (17-4-1) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (18-0)
To kick off the main card, an exciting Lightweight battle between Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Thiago Tavares and sambo specialist Khabib Nurmagomedov. This is an important fight to really clear up which one of these fighters deserves to get a major step up in competition. Both guys are excellent grapplers in their different disciplines but with the threat of submission, it is tough to see Khabib wanting to risk moving to the ground with Tavares.
Tavares is not known for his striking and rightfully so. Whatever he throws is likely done to set up a takedown so he can begin moving in for a submission. He has awesome top control and is one of the least appreciated jiu-jitsu practitioners in the division. If he is able to maintain a dominant position against Khabib, he could easily get the victory.
Getting Khabib down, however, will not be an easy task. He proved that size does not bother him after controlling the massive Gleison Tibau on the fence and getting a tight decision nod. He will need to aim for a similar strategy, using dirty boxing and control from the clinch to frustrate the Brazilian and get the victory.
Khabib has wild striking and will need to slow down and really pick his spots to get the better of the two. It will be interesting to see which of these two is able to control the pace of the fight but the Russian should squeak out a razor thin decision just because of his relentless style.
Prediction: Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision