The UFC on FOX 3 event will feature a middleweight fight between Alan Belcher and Rousimar Palhares. It’s a very important bout in the UFC middleweight division as both fighters are looking to separate themselves from the pack in becoming legitimate contenders. This fight is an interesting contrast in styles as it pits a well rounded fighter in Belcher against a submission ace in Palhares. Let’s see how this one breaks down.
Alan Belcher (17-6) comes into this bout off a submission(via punches) win over MMA veteran Jason MacDonald last September. Belcher has won eight fights via TKO/KO and five via technical submission and has won his last three fights in a row finishing all three opponents. In fact, Belcher only has one loss since 2008 which was a controversial split decision loss against Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100. Belcher prefers to strike but is also well versed in submissions on the ground.
Rousimar Palhares (14-3) comes intot his bout off a submission win over Mike Massenzio at UFC 142. Palhares has won 10 of his fights via submission while finishing one of his opponents via TKO/KO. I think it’s safe to call him a submission specialist. In fact, his submissions have put a lot of fighters on the shelf because of the sheer vicious nature of his attacks. Palhares is (7-2) inside the UFC with those two losses coming against top contenders Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt.
Palhares is the favorite at (-300) and Belcher as the underdog at (+230).
I would be ALL over Belcher with those odds. I think odds makers are influenced by how Palhares has been winning, but haven’t paid close enough attention to who he has been beating.
Palhares hasn’t beaten anyone close to being a top contender in his seven wins inside the UFC. His biggest win is probably against Dan Miller. I think Dan Miller is a very tough fighter, but there’s a reason why Miller’s record in the UFC is (4-5). Those four wins are against guys that are no longer in the UFC. Palhares has one way to win this fight and that’s to submit Belcher early in the fight when it’s still relatively easy to grip the limbs of Belcher. If he’s unable to get Belcher down he’s going to be in for a long night as Belcher clearly has the striking edge in this fight. Belcher also has better cardio as we’ve seen the muscular Palhares tire as fights go past the first round.
Belcher can win a decision in this fight by picking Palhares apart on the feet, or by finishing a tired Palhares late in the fight via TKO/KO. Belcher has good power and will have a sizable reach advantage over the shorter Palhares. The number one thing for him is to defend takedowns and keep fight from long range as Palhares does not have the striking skills to hang with Belcher. However, he does pack power when he connects so Belcher will have to be aware of that facet.
I think Belcher has the tools to win and I think he will be the toughest fight for Palhares since Dan Henderson in 2008 at UFC 88. Belcher via unanimous decision.