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« | Home | »

Can Vitor Belfort make Middleweight in 2011? Does he deserve a UFC title shot?

By Zach Arnold | September 29, 2010

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A conversation on the topic

STEVE COFIELD: “Big news last week, no doubt about it, with Chael Sonnen and the positive test and the UFC’s made their decision. They’re putting Vitor Belfort in a fight, you know, some time in 2011 against Anderson Silva. Great fight, I’m excited.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Ha ha. I’m gald you are, Steve. Um, heh. I don’t… if it was a non-title fight, I have no problem with it. I think it would be an exciting fight. My problem is, how has Vitor Belfort earned a shot at the Middleweight championship? When he has he fought Middleweight in the UFC? Tell me the last fight he’s had in the UFC at Middleweight. I’ll tell you the answer to that — he hasn’t. I think his last win at Middleweight was over Matt Lindland. … Terry Martin and Matt Lindland, if I’m not mistaken. To my way of thinking, you have to win fights in the organization you’re in and against rated contenders in order to get a shot at the championship and I know the Sonnen thing, you know, caused a lot of problems for them but I think, you know, the answer to this situation is (to) have Vitor Belfort go ahead and fight Yushin Okami and then have that winner fight Anderson Silva and re-arrange your schedule a little bit. It’s not ultimately what they wanted to do and I think that they wanted to get Anderson on one of the big shows, either at the end of the year or Super Bowl weekend but I just don’t like Vitor, I don’t think he’s earned the championship shot in this particular division.”

STEVE COFIELD: “So, for you, it’s more about fighting at the weight rather than the promotion because I’ll draw a comparison but obviously the guy’s very accomplished at the weight, but if Fedor had come in to UFC without wins in UFC he would have gotten Brock Lesnar, immediately.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Yeah, and I mean you can’t argue that one because number one that would have been the biggest fight in history in terms of had it come before the Werdum loss, had he signed with the UFC in ’09 in the Summer of ’09 when there was talk about that. That would have been the biggest fight in the history so from everybody’s standpoint people would have wanted to see it, there was clamor around the world to see that fight. I think Brock would have wanted it, certainly Fedor would have wanted that fight and I don’t think anybody can say, hey, Fedor needs to start at the bottom and fight Joey Beltran. I mean everybody would have agreed that Fedor deserves to get right in the mix but in Vitor’s case, you know, Vitor’s kind of been a mixed bag in his career and he hasn’t proven it. He has NOT MADE 185, so you know he fought that fight with Rich Franklin at 195. I mean, what do we do if he comes in and, you know, it’s been over two years since he last made that weight, by the time will come it’s been over two years since he made that 185 but if he comes up and all of a sudden finds out that hey, I can’t make it, you know, not good. I don’t think it’s right that, you know, you put a guy in a title shot. I think you have to see that he can make the weight first and beat somebody in the division, you know maybe he can make and he could be totally depleted, we don’t know what kind of Vitor we’re going to get because we’ve never seen him at this weight, especially at this age.”

STEVE COFIELD: “So, do you feel like Nate Marquardt got screwed here?”

KEVIN IOLE: “You know, I don’t want to say that he got screwed, you know, because if we say we don’t take the Vitor fight, now you say you know you’re Dana White or you’re Joe Silva talking to me, OK, smart guy, who do I put him in with, right? And then it’s not so easy because, you know, well Nate Marquardt not only lost to Anderson Silva but he lost to Chael Sonnen, you know do you put Yushin Okami back in there? He just got beat by Chael Sonnen, so there’s no, you know, obvious logical guy to go in. That’s why I say, hey, you know what? Just push Anderson’s title defense back a little bit and then we go and we create a contender by having a fight. That’s how I would do it, you know, I think that would be the more favorable thing to do. I understand that, you know, maybe from a business standpoint it’s not the greatest thing to do but from a competitor’s standpoint, the UFC’s done such a great job of keeping the value of their titles high by not giving unfair title shots and I think this is one in the way that you could say is an unfair title shot.”

STEVE COFIELD: “What are the odds of the fight actually happens? Because Belfort had to bail out of a lot of fights and already we heard from the Silva camp, you know, the elbow, you know, might not be ready for January 1st so, I mean is there a possibility that we could have a little drama before this fight any way and maybe Marquardt with a win gets pushed forward?”

KEVIN IOLE: “Yeah, I mean, I expect the fight to go forward to be honest with you, but I think, you know, Ed and Anderson will take the fight. I think (if) they’re healthy and there is no issue, they will take the fight. Now, can Vitor make it to the post? You know, I mean, you certainly bring up a good point. He’s had a history of falling out of fights and, you know, so until you see Vitor walking down the aisle and climbing up the steps, you know, you never know if the fight’s going to go off. I think it will happen, you know… my question is, is it going to be a title fight when it happens because, you know, I just have this really nagging feeling that when Vitor goes and tries to cut those final 10 pounds to get from 195 to 185, it’s going to be a lot different.”

The idea behind Silva/Belfort, on paper, makes sense. Belfort vs. Okami, on paper, was in general a bad match-up for Vitor. If you don’t want Okami to get a title shot, then they had to move Belfort into the title match to ensure that Vitor gets a crack at the belt.

Meanwhile, Marquardt can continue his climb back up by beating Okami. If Okami beats Marquardt, then he’s primed to face the winner of Silva/Belfort (unless another Middleweight comes into the picture) and UFC will have to give in on booking such a fight. The only detour for Okami is if Sonnen can somehow get his suspension reduced in California, then you would see Okami/Sonnen paired up again. Otherwise, not happening.

I think Anderson/Belfort is going to be a real fun fight to watch. They both have a common opponent in the UFC that they’ve beaten (Rich Franklin) and we’ll see whether or not Anderson can handle Belfort’s striking. I’m not sure if it’s a fight that will appeal to the masses, but I largely don’t have any problem with the fight itself being booked.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 25 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

25 Responses to “Can Vitor Belfort make Middleweight in 2011? Does he deserve a UFC title shot?”

  1. Fluyid says:

    “I think Anderson/Belfort is going to be a real fun fight to watch.”


    • robthom says:

      It will be fun to watch in an exhibition way.

      See how Belforts faster hands stack against andersons better striking.

      But Belfort doesn’t deserve a title shot beyond just being one of the last guys standing who hasn’t gotten his whipped by anderson card punched yet.

      He has no chance, but I’ll watch it.

      Why not.

  2. Vitor had built up a very reasonable record at middleweight prior to signing with the UFC and then clocked out Franklin at 195 in large part because Franklin was looking to stick around the light heavyweight division. While he’s been inactive for a year and I can’t say that makes me happy, this is a fight that presents Silva with a legitimate opponent (fast hands, great athlete, can wrestle, can pull off submissions) that would benefit his legacy to beat.

    • fd says:

      2-0 is a “very reasonable record at middleweight” now?

      • Mark says:

        UFC doesn’t always demand guys go on 6 win streaks to get title shots. Look at other title shot histories of people they’ve handed them out to:

        Brock Lesnar: 1-1 going into fight Couture.

        Shogun Rua: 2-1 going into fight Machida.

        Forrest Griffin: 2-1 going into fight Jackson

        And he’s not the first fighter to get a title shot in a weight he never fought in either. Sean Sherk never fought at Lightweight before the Kenny Florian fight.

      • Beating the two men he did at middleweight got him ranked among the top 5 in the world in 2009. Then to go out and clock Franklin like he did at 195? Yeah, its not officially a middleweight fight, but its not like it doesn’t matter at all as far as Belfort’s credentials go.

        Aside from Jake Shields, who isn’t a natural middleweight anyhow, is there anyone else that belongs in the discussion of deserving a title shot with Anderson Silva? I believe the answer is “absolutely not”. Combine it with Belfort’s talents and I think its a natural fight to make and a good one too.

  3. Norm says:

    I guess I kind of understand why Vitor got the nod to fill in, but I can’t understand why Okami always gets shafted.

    He was set to challenge at UFC 90, but got hurt. Nate’s already had his shot, Vitor has yet to win a fight at 185 in the UFC, etc.

    In terms of UFC as a “sport” Okami should have got the nod, but in terms of entertainment, I guess this is why we will see Vitor instead.

    Since, Silva is no longer going to be fighting at LHW, the MW division needs challengers, not to eliminate them. Give Okami his shot, give vitor his, then give Nate his.

  4. Robert Poole says:

    Maybe I am in the minority here but Vitor’s lightning fast hands and blitzing style sort of make this one of the matches I am most anticipating over this next year. It’s not as interesting as Brock-Fedor would have been but writing this match off because Vitor hasn’t fought some of the UFC Middleweights, most of whom have been dominated by Silva, doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Sometimes when the title contender slot is muddy, it’s best to pick someone who is the greatest threat to the champion to be the next guy and I honestly can’t see a single guy in the MW division as dangerous to Anderson Silva as Vitor will be. If Vitor gets his strikes off quickly again, I’m not sure how Silva deals with that and that makes this really intriguing.

    • edub says:

      “Sometimes when the title contender slot is muddy, itโ€™s best to pick someone who is the greatest threat to the champion,”

      That’s a great point Robert, and the UFC already did it once this year with the Edgar-Penn fight.

  5. David M says:

    Vitor has the perfect style to beat Anderson. He has faster hands, is stronger, can take Anderson down, has a good chin, and has good sub defense, except when against 250 pound roided up Dutchmen.

  6. Paradoxx says:

    The words “Dan Henderson” and “Frank Mir” render all this Belfort hate moot.

  7. mma shorts says:

    I cant wait for this fight altho both are my fave fighters so not sure who i want to win????

  8. robthom says:

    We’ll get to see some punching, maybe.

    I was thinking that at least fighting vitor wouldn’t allow for anderson to inoki/ali another grappler.
    But then I remembered pretty much all of vitors pride career, and his fights against overated…I mean overeem.

    Vitor has only really been doing anything worth watching for his last 3 fights.
    And those included terry martin and a flash KO against the flash KOable Lindland.

    What are the chances that anderson and vitor will just wander around the cage because anderson doesn’t think he owes anyone a damn thing and vitor is too insecure to instigate anything himself.

  9. mr. roadblock says:

    People get too caught up in this “winning streak” stuff. That’s how you get all of these awful and boring fights that go to the judges. Everyone just wants to get a W rather than put on a good fight and take chances.

    Silva vs Belfort is the only interesting title fight at 185. UFC made it. Thank goodness. How is anyone upset with it?

    Belfort is one of the original tournament winners and a former champ.

  10. klown says:

    Beating Rich Franklin, alone, entitles Belfort to a shot at the Middleweight title.

    • edub says:

      I actually kinda agree with that, but are you being sarcastic?

      • robthom says:

        I suggest we change the name from middle weight to Rich Franklin weight.

        Everybody fights Rich Franklin and whoever beats him gets a title shot.

      • klown says:

        I wasn’t being sarcastic. I don’t know what the fuss is about Belfort contending for the MW belt. He’s shown he can make the weight, and he’s beaten 2 good middleweights. Even if he hadn’t, I don’t see why a top fighter can’t change his weight class and compete for the belt. Like Henderson when fought Anderson Silva, and Couture when he fought Sylvia.

  11. shootor says:

    I love how Iole makes his big case for why Belfort shouldn’t get the title shot and then immediately discredits his own doctrine.


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