What greater prize is there in MMA than the chance to fight the greatest in the form of Anderson Silva? Well Vitor Belfort knows. He already fought “The Spider” and unceremoniously got his head kicked in. Thankfully for “The Phenom” this Saturday night he might well get another chance if he gets past mouthy Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7 from Sao Paolo. The trouble is many see Bisping as the rightful and most worthy challenger to Silva’s unmovable crown.
Vitor Belfort -Michael Bisping
Bisping [23-4] has been knocking at the door for a title shot against Anderson Silva for a long time now. How long you may ask? Well the fact that his 13 career wins in the UFC put him in the top ten in terms of victories in UFC history give an idea of his longevity. Sure, he may have lost against Chael Sonnen at UFC on Fox 2 in impressive fashion (if that’s possible) but he also rebounded with a unanimous decision against Brian Stann in September where has wobbled early on, recovered and then dominated the action.
Belfort [21-10] meanwhile needs this fight to remain credible. He may have been a few seconds away from the unthinkable in defeating Jon Jones with an armbar submission, but he also lost the rest of that fight resoundingly. There’s no place for the Brazilian in light-heavyweight and his defeat against Silva courtesy of a deft kick to the head proves the middleweight division is an equally tough but to crack.
One thing's for certain though. The matchup of Belfort against Bisping is one that could prove both equally intriguing and entertaining for fight fans. Bisping was able to recover quickly in his setback against Stann, but with Belfort’s relentless striking he might not get the same chance twice. As for Belfort if there’s anything we know for sure about the Brazilian is that he might very well tank if the fight goes the distance, something we would never expect of Bisping. Either way with the middleweight division in a flux and with an undefeated Silva at the helm this matchup could prove to be more than fun and important than at first glance.
Daniel Sarafian - C.B. Dollaway
Sarafian comes in the long line of prospects and local talent that seems to be de riguer for all fight cards staged in Brazil. On the face of it Sarafian [7-2], who’ll be making his debut in the UFC looks to be a good prospect. He was a finalist of Ultimate Fighter: Brazil which looks impressive. But he’s also not fought since June 2011. So a 30 year old who’s inactive is not a good sign.
On the plus side, he’ll be facing Dollaway [12-4] whose all four defeats came in the UFC and relatively recently. While Dollaway may have a stellar wrestling game, hailing from the same college as Cain Velasquez, that’s all he’s got. His knockout defeats to the likes of Mark Munoz and Jared Hamman prove that he may need more than a ground game to make inroads in the UFC and perhaps learn to develop a standing game. It may seem even but Sarafian is probably the favorite in a clash of limited fighters, which probably isn’t the greatest thing in the world.
Igor Guryashkin is a freelance journalist whose extensive work on combat sports has been featured in ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. He splits his time between New York and Louisville. Follow him on Twitter @IGuryashkinESPN.