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UFC 133 preview: Will Vitor Belfort rebound from highlight reel loss to best Yoshihiro Akiyama?

Vitor Belfort(left) will do battle with Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133

The co-main event for UFC 133 will feature a middleweight bout between Vitor Belfort and Yoshihiro Akiyama. It’s a very important fight for both fighters with Belfort losing to Anderson Silva in his last bout, and Akiyama dropping two in a row. Akiyama would be in serious trouble with three straight losses inside the octagon as we’ve seen Zuffa drop the hammer on fighters in that scenario. Let’s break down what should be an exciting fight:

Yoshihiro Akiyama comes into this fight with an overall record of (13-3) with 7 wins via submission and 5 via TKO/KO. As mentioned, Akiyama has dropped his last two fights with the last loss coming against Michael Bisping in October of last year. Akiyama has good striking with decent power, and an extensive background in judo. He likes to bring the fight to his opponents, but has exhibited cardio problems inside the octagon that have not helped his cause even though he’s won fight of the night honors in all of his UFC fights.

Vitor Belfort comes into this fight with an overall record of (19-9) with 13 wins via TKO/KO and 2 wins via submission. As mentioned, Belfort lost his last outing against Anderson Silva in a middleweight title fight. However, Belfort had won five in a row prior to that loss including a first round stoppage of former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin. Belfort has very good striking, quickness, and KO power. He’s also well versed on the ground, and has decent wrestling ability.

Bet on Fighting has Belfort as the favorite at (-300) and Akiyama as the underdog at (+240).

I agree that this is Belfort’s fight to lose as he simply has more tools. He should have the advantage standing with an edge in quickness, power, and cardio. My only concern would be his issue with Hepatitis A in which he dealt with back in April of this year. I wonder if he has suffered any lingering affects that have hindered his training camp for this fight? Other than that, I just don’t see how Akiyama would win this on barring a hail mary punch or something. As I mentioned, he does have decent power in his hands though.

I expect this to be a very entertaining fight while it lasts. I expect both guys to be fairly aggressive, and Akiyama has shown that he likes to come right at his opponents which will play right into the strength of Belfort. Belfort will likely counter-punch Akiyama’s tendency to over commit on his strikes. I don’t really see this one going to the ground and I see Belfort wanting to keep his distance to afford the possibility of Akiyama clinching and using his judo to throw him. If the fight plays out like this, Belfort will likely win via KO or decision especially if Akiyama begins to fade due to cardio issues. I must pointout that Akiyama has a great chin and the only time he was knocked out was by a guy that outweighed him by at least 30-40 pounds, but I still think Belfort has the ability to end this one. A straight left down the pipe just might do it.

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