Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
A key match in determining a top middleweight contender between Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort was announced as part of a Brazil vs. Foreigner themed show.
The show, which doesn't have a location, appears to have a Brazil vs. foreigner theme. The other two bouts listed being middleweights Daniel Sarafian (7-2) vs. C.B. Dollaway (12-4), and a heavyweight battle with Gabriel Gonzaga (13-6) vs. Ben Rothwell (32-8). It is likely as the first of many Brazil-centric shows planned for the market in 2013.
The show will be on FX, according to UFC president Dana White.
The main event is a battle between two of the longest tenured current UFC fighters.
Bisping debuted with the group in 2006, while Belfort's first UFC fight was as a 19-year-old in 1997. It's likely to be a key fight in finding a middleweight title contender. Bisping has won five of his last six fights, and the lone loss, to Chael Sonnen in a title eliminator, was a decision that could have gone either way. He's never had a title shot in his career. A win over Belfort would be the biggest of his career, and his first over a former UFC champion.
Belfort, a former light heavyweight champion back in 2004, lost to champion Anderson Silva after a highlight reel front kick to the jaw on Feb. 5, 2011, in Las Vegas. The winner of this fight, and the winner of a Dec. 29 fight in Las Vegas between Chris Weidman vs. Tim Boetsch, would be the most logical contenders for the title. Depending on the timing, particularly if a "dream" fight can be made with Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre, the logical thing would seem to be to match up the two winners of those fights because that would give a contender that nobody could argue would have earned the shot.
Plus, whoever wins would have two more high-profile wins to where they should be marketable by that point in the big fight position, which has been the knock on Weidman.
Belfort is coming off a loss at light heavyweight to Jon Jones in a championship fight on Sept. 22 in Toronto. Belfort injured Jones' arm with an early armbar, but had little offense after Jones escaped from the move that resulted in a few elbow ligament tears. Belfort eventually submitted in the fourth round from a keylock.
The key in this fight may be if Belfort, who has 15 first-round finishes in his 21 wins, can get the jump on Bisping early. Belfort has the better one-punch knockout power, but Bisping's forte is a grueling fast-paced fight, wearing down his opponents. Bisping has often been in trouble early and come back to win. His strong point, his stamina, has often been Belfort's weakness.
Sarafian was a middleweight finalist on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. However, he was injured before the championship fight with Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira, who went on to win the show. Sergio Moraes took his spot even though Sarafian had knocked Moraes out in the first round with a flying knee. While unknown in North America, Sarafian is a major name fighter in Brazil already due to the audience of 12 million weekly that watched him earn a spot in the tournament finals.
Dollaway, a former All-American wrestler at Arizona State on the same team as Cain Velasquez and Ryan Bader, was a favorite in Ultimate Fighter 7, losing in the finals to Amir Sadollah. He has struggled in the UFC, winning six of ten.
Gonzaga is a heavyweight who appeared to have the tools, size, great Jiu Jitsu skills and knockout power, but has never been able to put it together. He returned to UFC on Jan. 14, with a quick submission win over Ednaldo Oliveira. In his last fight, Rothwell scored a knockout win over Brendan Schaub at UFC 145 on April 21 in one of the most exciting one-minute fights in recent memory.
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