The UFC returns to Brazil with an impressive schedule of fights as Vitor Belfort takes on Kelvin Gastelum in the headline bout of the night. There are plenty of other enticing fights to look forward to this weekend as well, so we’ll preview Mauricio Rua vs. Gian Villante before analysing the rest of the main card in a separate piece.
This is what Vitor Belfort has come to. He’s obviously well past his prime, regardless of the doping conversations, but manages to find himself in tough matchups. This one, against Kelvin Gastelum, is just as much of a challenge as his previous two losses against Gegard Mousasi and Jacare Souza and it’s going to take somewhat of a surprising performance against Gastelum to get the job done.
Admittedly, Belfort didn’t look all that bad against Mousasi early as he found a perfectly timed left hand early in the fight and looked to pressure Mousasi as a result but it wasn’t enough and in typical Vitor style, once his confidence went, his chances of winning quickly diminished. I still think that Belfort would run through most of the inexperienced and non-ranked guys, unfortunately for him though he gets tough fight after tough fight. Belfort says, “People talk about losses, but my last fights were against the toughest guys”.
Kelvin Gastelum has hopefully realised that he should stay at middleweight after looking spectacular against Tim Kennedy at UFC 206 in December. Recent images show that Gastelum has added even more size to his frame and now resembles more of a bodybuilder than a mixed martial artist. Gastelum has now looked great in two consecutive fights after losing to Neil Magny in November 2015. While the wins come against veterans who are well past their best days, Johny Hendricks and Tim Kennedy, it’s easy to see that Gastelum looks much more comfortable at middleweight and will provide stiff competition for everyone in the division.
I see this one following the same path as the Gegard Mousasi vs. Vito Belfort fight in which Mousasi just overwhelmed Belfort with power as Belfort opted to wait and counter-strike. Counter striking isn’t going to get it done against guys like Gastelum who will use their power, aggression and strength to completely overwhelm opponents. Belfort may make it through the first round, but I see Gastelum getting the stoppage in the early stages of the second round.
The UFC have ensured that the Brazilian fans will have a great time as they added yet another Brazilian legend to UFC Fight Night 106 when Mauricio Rua, a former champion of the UFC fights Gian Villante. After losing to Dan Henderson and Ovince St. Preux in 2014, Rua has now found consecutive victories against Antonio Rogerio Nogueria at UFC 190 and then a split decision victory against Corey Anderson at UFC 198. Rua nearly finished Anderson late in the first round before the bell sounded before going on to win round two as well.
Gian Villante is riding a wave of wins and losses with a 2-2 record in his last four fights with three of the four not making it out of the second round. His two wins have via KO/TKO on each of Anthony Perosh and Saparbek Safarov in which he was a betting favourite in each of these fights.
Both of these guys hit with extreme power and aren’t afraid to let their hands go. All it takes is one clean strike, and the fight is over. I like the idea of betting on the under in total rounds markets considering that this is a relatively close matchup and I can’t predict a winner.
Vitor Belfort vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Kelvin Gastelum to win in Round 2
Sunday 12th March, 05:30 GMT
Odds: +500 – BetVictor
Mauricio Rua vs. Gian Villante
Total Rounds – Under 1.5
Sunday 5th March, 05:00 GMT
Odds: +125 – Winner