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Bisping vs Belfort Main Card Predictions

The UFC returns to Brazil this Saturday for UFC on FX 7, featuring a middleweight main event that should give us a new number-one contender for Anderson Silva's 185 lbs title. UFC President Dana White has already said several times that should Michael Bisping win, he will get his long-awaited title shot. The same hasn't been said for Belfort, who lost to Silva in February of 2010 by highlight-reel knock-out, one that we find hard to erase from our collective consciousness. Here are my predictions for the four-fight main card airing on FX:

Thiago Tavares vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Tavares has been fighting in the octagon since 2007, and has 12 UFC fights under his belt, with a total mma record of 17-4-1 draw (UFC.com has 21 wins, Sherdog.com shows 17 for Tavares). He is currently riding a two-fight win streak and his most recent loss came against Shane Roller by KO in March of 2011. Nurmagomedov is also on a two-fight win streak in the UFC, and is undefeated in 18 mma fights. 11 of Tavares wins have come by submission, and seven of Nurmagomedov's have as well. Tavares hasn't been in the cage in a year, where as Nurmagomedov fought twice in 2012. The odds on this fight put Khabib as just under a 2-1 favorite, and I'd agree with them. Tavares is no slouch either standing or on the mat, so it will be a close fight, but I am going to pick Nurmagomedov by decision.

My Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ben Rothwell

The oddsmakers are somewhat scattered when it comes to the lines on this fight, but none are very far from each other. This can be attributed to the perceived evenness of the match-up. Nothing on paper jumps out and lends itself to either fighter winning here. One item of note would be that Rothwell's most recent outing was a KO victory over Brendan Schaub, whereas Gonzaga lost a decision to Schaub back in 2010. Rothwell has significantly more fights, and wins, but Gonzaga has three times as many fights inside the UFC octagon. Gonzaga easily takes the fight if it goes to the ground, but I have a feeling 'Big' Ben is going to be able to keep it standing until Gonzaga hits the mat.

My Prediction: Ben Rothwell

C.B. Dollaway vs. Daniel Sarafian

Sarafiian was a member of Team Vitor on the inaugural season of TUF:Brasil, and made it to the finals before having to pull out due to injury. Dollaway's most recent outing was a decision win against Jason Miller, in a fight that UFC President Dana White thought 'sucked'. Dollaway has six wins in 10 UFC fights, and Sarafian is making his official UFC debut, after being one of the most dominant fighters on the TUF Brasil roster. Dollaway is a smart fighter, but I can't pick against the explosiveness and dynamic striking and jiu jitsu of Sarafian.

My Prediction: Daniel Sarafian

Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping.

Bisping is the favorite on just over half of the betting lines I have looked at so far, but none of them go any farther than a (-120) for the Brit. They both share a win over Yoshihiro Akiyama, but Belfort was able to KO 'Sexyama' in the first round and Bisping went to the judges scorecards. Belfort's only losses this decade have come against Anderson Silva, and Jon Jones. Bisping's most recent win over Brian Stann is his only real victory over a top-10 middleweight, although his loss to Chael Sonnen last January certainly rose his stock, as lots of folks saw the fight going to him.

Bisping may be looking past Belfort in this fight, as a title shot has already been promised should he win. Belfort has clearly faced tougher competition than Bisping has(aside from Sonnen), and he didn't look any less dangerous in his loss to Jon Jones than he has in his victories. Vitor seems to have more of a finishing instinct than Bisping does. Bisping likes to use his head movement and boxing to out-work his opponent, and his cardio is a major advantage as the fight goes on. The only problem for him is that aside from Belfort's most recent defeat to Jon Jones, which came in the fourth round, 'The Phenom' hasn't gone past the opening frame since 2008. I think Bisping will try to avoid Vitor's onslaught and keep some distance early, but Belfort's gloves will find Bisping's face and there won't be much left after that.

My Prediction: Vitor Belfort

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