The Arena Jaragua in Santa Catarina, Brazil, will be treated to a middleweight clash with huge divisional ramifications. Luke Rockhold is the former Strikeforce kingpin looking to establish himself as a serious contender in the UFC. Vitor Belfort is the old lion that can still maul anyone who enters the cage.
The victor will most likely get a title shot at the Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman winner. Rockhold would be a fresh challenger for the championship. On the other hand, Belfort was already blitzed by Silva, but a rematch could mean big business in Brazil due to the UFC’s explosion in popularity in that country.
We all know the story with Vitor. He has great jiu-jitsu, incredible hand speed, and can knockout you out in the blink of an eye. Rockhold is a well-rounded fighter with great takedown defense and excellent kickboxing. A lot of people compare Rockhold to Michael Bisping in terms of style. However, Bisping makes many fundamental mistakes, such as keeping his hands down and circling into his opponents’ power. Rockhold fights at a distance, mixes it up to create openings, and finds his range faster than most. The longer this five-round affair goes, the better it is for Rockhold.
TRT has been a subject of controversy in Mixed Martial Arts, and Belfort has not shied away from the criticism. While it’s legal, it’s basically a backdoor way of using PED’s. The more wins he racks up, the more clouded the record becomes. The infamous Octagon jitters could be a factor as Rockhold is making his UFC debut, in the main event, on Belfort’s home turf.
Most of the advantages go to Luke Rockhold, but I’m not sold on him yet. While this could be his coming out party, experience plays a huge factor in this equation, and Belfort has it for days. It will take longer than usual, but I believe “The Phenom” will catch him in a scramble with a right hook late in the third round to call it a day.