It will be a matchup of Old Lion vs. Young Lion later tonight (Sat., Mar. 11, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 106 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Centro de Formacao Olimpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Brazil, as former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight king Vitor Belfort takes on welterweight defector and budding title contender Kelvin Gastelum. Belfort comes in 14 years older than his counterpart and is making his return to Brazil since losing to Ronaldo Souza via TKO back at UFC 198.
In order to sift through the impending doom and determine what each fighter needs to do to capture Octagon glory in their first appearance this year, we take a closer look at the keys to victory for both Belfort and Gastelum.
1) Find a home early…
At 39 years of age, Belfort doesn’t possess the physical makeup and undying conditioning to maintain a high-paced output for five-straight rounds. While “The Phenom” has always been a fast starter and a puncher who goes for broke early, he’s going to want to lean on that gameplan even more in his matchup with Gastelum.
Unfortunately for Belfort, Gastelum has never been finished before, but does give up some angles to be hit. Belfort must attack those angles early if he wishes to gain the momentum of the fight, hurt his younger counterpart before he gets going and give himself the best chance to avoid a dragged-out war that lasts into the fourth and fifth frames.
2) Keep his back off the cage…
The best chance for Belfort to land offense and do damage relies on his ability to strike from distance and use his quick combinations. Belfort has been so good at doing this in the past, but has slightly fallen off later into his career.
The Brazilian bruiser should be able to find success at points, but he will have to keep his back off the cage and body in the middle of the Octagon to force Gastelum into uncomfortable situations. As good as Gastelum is on the ground and up close, he always tries to establish himself on the feet. That should give Belfort the opportunity to inflict damage as long as he creates distance, remains mobile and keeps Gastelum on the balls of his feet.
1) Clinch early…
The proof is in the pudding. Gastelum, who burst onto the scene a few years back on the merit of a powerful ground-and-pound game, is quickly becoming a reputable striker. The youngster has made significant strides over his past few fights to land heavy offense on the feet, but may want to take a different approach as he takes on the most dangerous puncher of his career.
Instead of blasting away at Belfort and giving “The Phenom” a chance to uncork his blistering combinations, Gastelum must create his easiest path to victory, get inside early, force the Brazilian to exhaust all the energy he has and score points in the clinch. This will directly limit Belfort’s power on the feet and immediately sap the legend’s somewhat depleted gas tank.
2) Embrace the grind…
A quick finish would be nice, but Gastelum must approach this main event opportunity with extreme caution. That doesn’t mean he can’t finish Belfort early and send thousands of seething Brazilian fans into a frenzy, but he shouldn’t look for something if it isn’t there.
Instead, Gastelum must take a page out of Chris Weidman and Ronaldo Souza’s book, take Belfort down when he can, work his top game and let the finish create itself. If Gastelum happens to drag “The Phenom” into the fourth and fifth rounds then so be it. Gastelum needs to prove that he can outwork a declining veteran like Belfort if he wants to make a run at the title. Dominating from the opening bell and embracing the grind will certainly suffice.
Prediction: Gastelum via third-round TKO
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 106 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.
Source:: mma mania