Anderson Silva (27-4) will try and fend off Vitor Belfort (19-8) in the UFC 126 main event.

We have previewed the entire main card portion of UFC 126, and have finally made it to the main event in a battle consisting of Anderson Silva defending his middleweight title against Vitor Belfort this weekend in Las Vegas, Nev.

We are going to get right into this one, because there’s a lot to digest.

Vitor Belfort comes into this fight with a career record of 19-8 with 13 wins via TKO/KO and two via submission.  He possesses an excellent finishing rate of 79%, and four of his last five wins have come via the knockout.

The last time he was in action was back at UFC 103 (Sept. 2009) where he was seen folding Rich Franklin like a wet paper sack in the very first round.

Belfort comes into this fight with an array of tools at his disposal.  He has KO power, very quick hands and an underrated ground game in my opinion.

Belfort first debuted at UFC 12 as a heavyweight, but has gradually made the cut down to middleweight over the years.  However, this will be the first time he has fought as a middleweight since his win over Matt Lindland in January 2009.

The Franklin fight was a catch-weight bout at 195lbs, so the weight cut could be a factor in this one.

Anderson Silva comes into this fight with a career record of 27-4 with 15 wins via TKO/KO and five via submission.  That equals a finishing percentage of 74%, but many do not realize that many of those opponents have been great fighters.  So that makes a very good finishing percentage even better.

We last saw Silva in action back at UFC 117 where he was dominated by Chael Sonnen for much of the fight only to submit Sonnen in the final round of the fight.  That was Silva’s 12th UFC fight, and the very first time he had taken that much damage since being in the UFC.

Silva brings precision power striking, very fluid movement, and a ground game that is finally starting to get respect.

Both fighters have similar attributes, but Silva is taller and has the reach advantage here.  Both guys have ground games, but prefer to stand and trade for the most part.

This fight is interesting on so many levels, but mainly because of the success that Chael Sonnen had against Anderson Silva while they were on their feet. If Silva would have blitzed Sonnen like he’s done so many other fighters, we wouldn’t be giving Belfort much of a chance.

It was weird because Sonnen isn’t known for having great stand up skills or huge power.  However, he was able to hit Anderson and drop him a couple of times in that fight.

A part of me was thinking that Silva was just playing (it’s crazy that the thought crossed my mind, but that’s how good Silva has been) with Sonnen, but I just can’t see how Silva would just let Sonnen do that.

I had never seen Anderson Silva with wobbly legs prior to the Sonnen fight which brings me to this point.  If Sonnen was able to do that, shouldn’t Belfort be even more of a threat to do that or even put Silva away?

Keys To Victory

At LinesMaker ( Anderson Silva is the ( -260) betting favorite.  Silva typically likes to get a feel for his opponents timing the first minute or so of the bout, but he’ll be facing a counter-striker in Belfort.  So he’ll need to utilize the reach advantage he has to establish his range while getting a sense for the speed of Belfort’s striking game.

Silva is talented enough to pick Belfort apart, but he too likes to counter-strike so this fight could have its lulls in action if neither want to engage.

I don’t see Silva shooting for any take downs or anything of the sort.  However, he could make use of the Thai plum and try to do damage against the shorter Belfort if the opportunity presents itself. Silva has an excellent chin, but he still needs to avoid the power of Belfort.

Belfort will need to be patient, just as he did in the fight against Rich Franklin.  There wasn’t much action in that fight during the first couple of minutes, but when Franklin began to get restless it was lights out once he became the aggressor against Belfort.

I think Belfort should let Silva become the aggressor while looking for openings to land with power.  Otherwise, he’ll probably get out-pointed all night due to the length and precision of Silva.

How Will It End?

That’s a great question.  Silva’s the odds on favorite, however, he did look somewhat human in his last fight against Sonnen.  Granted, the style of this fight will be totally different.

I could certainly see Belfort shocking the MMA world by stunning Silva and finishing him with strikes.  However, I think the long lay off is going to affect Belfort’s timing.  I also think that the weight cut could have an impact on Belfort if by chance this fight goes into those championship rounds.

If I were a betting man, I might lay down a dollar or two on Belfort at these odds.  However, it’s incredibly tough to bet against Anderson Silva because he’s been an elite fighter for such a long time.

I think this fight ends quickly, or turns into a long drawn out sparring match in which Silva will be the winner.  How do you see it playing out?

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