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UFC 187: Vitor Belfort Attempts to Slay “Brazilian Killer” Chris Weidman

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It seems the UFC has a thing for putting their UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman against Brazilian legends. First, he defeated former pound for pound king Anderson Silva to win the belt, then he was given the difficult task of solving the puzzle that is Lyoto Machida, and now on Saturday night, he faces another Brazilian MMA legend in Vitor Belfort. Belfort is on a three-fight knockout streak with impressive wins over Michael Bisping, Dan Henderson, and newly crowned number one contender Luke Rockhold. These two have been exchanging words for over a year and a half now, but injuries have forced them out of the bout time after time.

Weidman started his tear of Brazil’s best in a fight with Demian Maia on the second UFC on FOX with just eleven days notice. He was not afraid of Maia’s high level Jiu-Jitsu, as he was able to frustrate Maia by using takedowns and frequent punches before getting a decision. Weidman became a serious threat at Middleweight after the win and was matched up against Mark Munoz in the first main event of his UFC career. Weidman had been dominant up to this point, but it was obvious that Munoz was his biggest challenge to date and he was sure to be tested. Weidman delivered by knocking Munoz out with a ferocious elbow that left the Filipino in a pool of his own blood. Weidman called for a fight with Middleweight champion Anderson Silva following the fight and eventually got his wish due to the lack of contenders for Silva. Many people believed Weidman posed the greatest threat to Silva’s title reign, as he possessed an all around set of skills formed around a wrestling base that seemed to be Anderson’s weakness in his fights with Chael Sonnen. Weidman did not take long to put Silva on his back and managed to keep him there for a good part of the round, when the fight got back to its feet Weidman was able to push Silva against the cage and connect with some clean punches. Tensions were high after the round; Anderson even kissed Weidman on the cheek as the first round came to a close. In the second round, Anderson began to put his hands down and taunt the challenger, Weidman wasn’t phased at all and caught Silva with a left hook that sent the champion to the floor. Weidman followed up with a set of powerful punches before Herb Dean stepped in causing the crowd to erupt in shock.

Even though he was crowned as the new UFC Middleweight champion, Weidman was still not given the glory one would have thought he would get for defeating the best fighter in the world. Weidman was even an underdog going into the rematch, one where he defeated Silva a second time by checking a leg kick that caused Anderson’s left fibula and tibia to snap on contact leaving MMA fans heartbroken. After defeating the best fighter in the world twice, one would think Weidman would have been respected as the best Middleweight in the world. This was not the case, Weidman was put up against former Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and this was the fight where hardcore MMA fans felt he would truly be put to the test. The champ went on to silence his critics with an impressive fight of the year performance over Machida. It was obvious that Weidman had arrived after the win and he is now on a path to becoming one of MMA’s biggest draws. Some even argue that this fight should be the main event instead of Cormier-Johnson.

Vitor Belfort’s road to UFC 187 is much longer, one that has involved many title fights, testosterone controversy, and highlight reel knockouts. Belfort reached a point in his career from 2004 to 2006 where he lost five of his last seven fights, defeated by the likes of Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Alistair Overeem, and Dan Henderson. However, Belfort’s career had resurgence after brutal knockout wins over Terry Martin and former Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland in the short lived Affliction promotion. The UFC signed Vitor after the wins and put him against former Middleweight champion Rich Franklin, many suspected that if Vitor won he would be next in line for a shot against Anderson. Belfort was able to finish Franklin a little over half way into the first round and people thought he had the best chance to knock Silva out of anybody in the division. Belfort couldn’t get anything going offensively in the fight outside of a takedown and fell victim to a first round front kick knockout that is considered to be one of the greatest KO’s of all time.

Following the loss, Vitor had dominant wins over Yoshihiro Akiyama and an eleven-pound overweight Anthony Johnson. While on a two fight win streak, Dan Henderson had fallen out of his fight with Jon Jones causing the cancellation of UFC 151. Vitor being the opportunist that he is decided to take advantage and accept a fight against the UFC Light Heavyweight champion. Vitor put an armbar on Jones early in the first round, but that was the only success he had in the fight as he was overmatched and later finished by a key lock in the fourth round.

After being a submission away from becoming champion for a second time, one wondered if Vitor was ever going to be able to reach the top again at this point in his career. Belfort went back down the ladder and back to Middleweight after the loss and defeated Michael Bisping with a brilliant left straight head kick, after the fight Vitor called out Jones again but his wishes were not granted. The UFC purchased Strikeforce and along with it came top Middleweight Luke Rockhold, Vitor was then given the task of welcoming Rockhold to the UFC and delivered with a spinning back kick knockout that made highlight reels all across the world and was considered knockout of the year by many publications. Even after two wins over the division’s best, the road ahead was still unclear for Belfort as 185 was tied up due to Weidman defeating Silva and the UFC granting Silva an immediate rematch. Vitor was given a chance to avenge a loss from that slump he had in 2004-2006 by putting him up against former Pride Middleweight and Welterweight champion Dan Henderson. Belfort was able to finish Henderson with a left kick very similar to what he finished Bisping with. After the win, it was clear that Vitor was next in line for a shot against the Middleweight champion.

When Weidman and Belfort step into the cage on Saturday, it will mark the arrival of the UFC’s newest star or the amazing comeback story of an all time great. Weidman’s never been hit by anyone that has the power of Belfort and I expect see him get tested by a few hard shots in the first two rounds, but as the fight goes on Weidman will use takedowns, conditioning, movement, and distance to wear down the muscular Belfort in route to a unanimous decision. A win here for Weidman can lead to a big payday in his next fight, Weidman vs. Rockhold in New York City has the potential to do big numbers. On the other side, a win for Belfort would not only put the MMA world in a frenzy, but it would also create Belfort-Rockhold II, one of the most anticipated rematches in the UFC.

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Forget Cormier vs. Jones – Cyborg vs. Megan Anderson Should Headline UFC 214

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Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones II is all but confirmed for UFC 214 in Anaheim, California on July 29. Despite the magnitude of the light-heavyweight championship rematch, the UFC would do well to look elsewhere for their UFC 214 main event — namely in the direction of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and Megan Anderson.

The UFC’s schedule for the first half of 2017 is largely booked as of now. Fight announcements for July are coming in daily but there is still no clue as to who might headline UFC 213, the promotion’s International Fight Week pay-per-view offering. Jon Jones is expected to make his long-awaited return in July however not for 213.

UFC President Dana White has stated that Jones will not be eligible to compete during International Fight Week due to his suspension, making UFC 214 in late July the most likely option. White also insisted that Jones cannot be trusted to headline an event due to his past transgressions.

If White holds true to his word it’ll be a bizarre and unfortunate set of circumstances to promote the most important rematch in the history of the UFC. Many titleholders are booked for the moment, so the Cormier vs. Jones rerun would seem the most logical choice. However, as has been the norm in the past two years of UFC promotion an interim title can be slapped on to any semi-interesting match.

Countless arguments are made about how interim titles are senseless and harmful to the actual titleholder but those arguments although valid, are not much more than gripes.

The absence of sanctioning bodies in mixed martial arts are a contentious point of debate in the MMA community and combat sports in general but sanctioning bodies in regard to titles are almost always a nuisance in the world of boxing.

Any educated fan knows who the real champion is. Even in the rare instance where the interim titleholder is held in higher regard or more popular than the actual champion as was the case with Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo, nothing was done to diminish the value of the featherweight belt.

The notion that a title fight must headline a card may be antiquated but it seems that is the manner that the UFC will continue to handle business for the foreseeable future. Five rounds are seldom a negative in high-level MMA and an interim belt would be most justified if a match is made between former Invicta featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and current champion Megan Anderson.

If Cormier vs. Jones will play second fiddle to another fight, an interim featherweight title fight between “Cyborg” and Anderson would be a sensible headliner for UFC 214. Given the lack of options and the current featherweight champion’s fighting future in doubt, the fight would merit its headlining spot.

Jones in a co-headliner may seem strange business wise. It is rare for Dana White to put morale ahead of dollar signs but if it is the case it may be for the better. An alpha male like Jones doesn’t want to be second to anyone. The very fact that the marquee will say Cormier vs. Jones instead of Jones vs. Cormier most likely rankles with the superstar.

Yet the promotion of Jones is more intriguing now than it ever has been. Jones reportedly pulled in right under 500,000 buys for UFC 197. Not too shabby for a 15-month layoff with a lukewarm undercard.

Moreover, a fight with the magnitude of Cormier Vs. Jones will be heavily promoted under any circumstance. ESPN, TMZ, Deadspin, will all be pulled towards covering the event, so the co-main event placing may not be that big of a deal. The benefits that the Cormier/Jones rematch can provide for the women’s featherweight division are substantial.

..that the fight itself was between a 135 pounder who had lost her last two and a fringe top 10 bantamweight didn’t make matters any better.

UFC 208 was the official introduction of the featherweight division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and it wasn’t loved by many spectators. Germaine de Randamie outpointed Holly Holm in a 25-minute striking affair.

Technically, the fight was brilliant but provided not a single awe-inspiring moment. The fact that there was controversy regarding some illegal blows, a contested decision, and that the fight itself was between a 135 pounder who had lost her last two and a fringe top 10 bantamweight didn’t make matters any better.

The great thing about a Cyborg/Anderson fight is that both women really want the fight and also happen to be great kickboxers that have genuine horsepower. “Cyborg” trounced Leslie Smith in less than a round and utterly pummeled Lina Lansberg in just over five minutes. Anderson is young and still relatively raw but has some exceptional power at featherweight.

The desire to improve is also not lost on the talented Aussie. Her Invicta FC debut was an embarrassingly one-sided loss to notorious overachieving veteran Cindy Dandois.

Grappling is an aspect of MMA that Anderson hasn’t fully grasped as of yet but is miles ahead of where she was in 2015. Anderson’s 2016 was outstanding with three knockouts in a row and she showed her artistic side as she used Charmaine Tweet’s blood to splatter the canvas red like a deranged college activist student.

There was a USADA flagging for “Cyborg” after her last win that was retroactively cleared. Unfortunate and badly timed, it ended up rekindling an old hatred that some in the MMA community have had for the Brazilian since her first positive test in 2011.

“Cyborg” is a respectful competitor and her fighting style is barbaric but her past with PEDs rubs some fans the wrong way, making her a lightning rod for controversy. More often than not, controversy sells.

In the skills and experience department “Cyborg” will hold a distinct advantage, however, Anderson is not lacking in confidence and may be the first fighter that can match “Cyborg’s” power. Anderson also happens to be a fan favourite in Invicta and isn’t shy about trash talking when the opportunity calls for it.

Justino vs. Anderson would not only be a well-matched and entertaining scrap, it would possess something many women’s MMA fights are too commonly missing, intrigue.

Ronda Rousey is unlikely to come back and that leaves the UFC looking for ways to create a new female star. This bout would seem like the most probable one to do that.

Rousey had a great home backing in Southern California from early on in her career and it might be time for “Cyborg” to take some of those fans as she has been a SoCal native for years. Anaheim is only a few miles from “Cyborg’s” hometown of Huntington Beach and it shares an ocean with The Land Down Under.

If a sacrifice is made by the UFC to prove a point, then let it be one that carries some positive possibilities for other athletes who are hungry and deserving of the spotlight. Step aside Jones, and let the ladies handle this one.

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Reports: Vitor Belfort to step in against Anderson Silva at UFC 212

Matthew Wells

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UFC 212 may have a new co-main event featuring two legends from Brazil.

Ag.Fight has reported Vitor Belfort has offered to fill in for Kelvin Gastelum to face Anderson Silva at UFC 212 in Rio on June 3.

Gastelum was originally scheduled to face Silva, but due to a potential USADA anti-doping violation which saw Gastelum flagged for marijuana metabolites stemming from an in-competition sample collected on March 11, 2017, a provisional suspension was levied and he was removed from the card.

Silva, who celebrates his 42nd birthday on April 14, will remain on the UFC 212 card which is headlined by a featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo. Silva found his way back into the win column at UFC 208 where he won a unanimous decision over Derek Brunson, notching the 34th professional victory for the former UFC Middleweight Champion. The win over Brunson is the first official victory on Silva’s record since UFC 153 over Stephan Bonnar since the win over Nick Diaz at UFC 183 has since been overturned to a No Contest.

Due to Gastelum’s USADA issues, we may have a rematch of a title bout that took place at UFC 126 that saw Silva defend his middleweight strap against Belfort in devastating fashion.

Belfort, who turned 40 on April 1, has one more fight remaining on his UFC contract and expressed his desires to fulfill his contract after suffering a loss in his last outing to the aforementioned Gastelum at UFC Fight Night 106 in March. The loss was the third straight TKO loss for the former champion, whose last win came over Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 77 in November 2015. Belfort always wants the biggest fight available, and name-wise, they don’t come much bigger than Anderson Silva.

While both men have had their bumps in the road in the recent final chapters of their careers, fighting on their home soil in Brazil is something both men always look forward to.

UFC 212 takes place at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janerio, Brazil on June 3, 2017.

Confirmed bouts include:

  • Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway
  • Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
  • Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Eric Spicely
  • Johnny Eduardo vs. Matthew Lopez
  • Marco Antonio Beltran vs. Delveson Alcantra
  • Yancy Medeiros vs. Erick Silva
  • Paulo Henrique Costa vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
  • Leonardo Santos vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
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Rafael Carvalho – I Hope Manhoef Comes to Fight This Time

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Bellator 176 takes place this Saturday on April 8th from Torino, Italy and will mark the promotion’s second trip to Italy after Bellator 152 which took place almost one year ago. The main event for the event will be a middleweight title rematch between champion Rafael Carvalho and challenger Melvin Manhoef.

The two first met at Bellator 155 in May of last year. On that occasion, Carvalho left with a decision victory that some felt should have gone the way of his Dutch opponent. Carvalho does not believe that the judges will be required this time, however. “I will defend my title with a knockout,” Carvalho told MMA Latest News. “I hope he (Manhoef) comes to fight this time like the Manhoef we know.”

The fight received some criticism at the time from fans and even Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith. However, Carvalho believes the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of Manhoef, whose tactics on the night surprised him. “I trained for, and came with, a tactic to knock him out,” Carvalho explained. “However, he did not come to fight and was not as aggressive as he usually is. He was afraid I would take him to the ground. I do not understand why he ran away from the fight. I was always moving forward but he did not want to come and strike, just to use low kicks. You do not win a fight with only low kicks.”

The rematch takes place in Europe, which is a first for Carvalho, but will also be in front of a crowd that loves striking, as the card takes place in conjunction with a Bellator kickboxing event. That is something which excites the Brazilian. “It will be really good to fight in Europe,” Carvalho enthused. “Europe is the land of the great K-1 strikers – the fans love strikers. Manhoef is a feared striker and I hope he does not sh*t himself scared and comes for a murderous striking fight.”

The fact that the event is happening alongside a Bellator kickboxing event has another level of intrigue to it, as Carvalho also revealed that he is planning on competing on a Bellator kickboxing card in the near future and hopes to fight in both Bellator disciplines. “I think about it a lot,” he said. “My manager has already informed Bellator that I would like to fight in Bellator Kickboxing also.”

The expansion of Bellator in recent times has been there for all to see, from signing big name free agents such as Rory MacDonald and Ryan Bader, to hosting more shows in different countries such as Italy and Ireland. However, one country that the promotion has not yet visited is Brazil, which is something that Carvalho believes should happen in the near future – and one would have to believe that Carvalho would have a strong case to headline  such an event. “It would be a great show,” he began. “Bellator cannot stay out of Brazil. Brazilians love MMA – it is where it all started. A show in Curitiba or Rio de Janeiro would be a great success. We have many top Brazilian fighters in Bellator. A card in Brazil cannot wait any longer.”

Bellator 176 takes place on April 8th from Pala Alpitour in Torino, Italy. Tune in to see Rafael Carvalho and Melvin Manhoef settle the score once and for all to see who will leave Europe with the Bellator middleweight title.

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