UFC Picks: UFC on FX 7 Michael Bisping vs. Vitor Belfort

Brian Mendez

Friday, January 18, 2013 12:01 PM GMT

From Sao Paulo, Brazil, the UFC returns to the mecca of Mixed Martial Arts as Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort look to arise as the next viable contender for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in 2013.

UFC on FX 7: Michael “The Count” Bisping vs. Vitor Belfort

The UFC returns to Sao Paulo, Brazil this weekend where the next potential challenger for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will emerge between the winner of Michael Bisping vs. Vitor Belfort.

At current UFC odds of -110, Bisping’s line appears 30 to 50 cents lower than it should be. When you factor in Bisping’s propensity to get caught early with hard punches & Belfort’s over exaggerated success against Jon Jones, public favor seems heavily tilted on the side of the Brazilian at the moment.

That’s not to say there isn’t a strong argument to be made for Belfort winning the fight- particularly by KO in the first round.

The biggest issue is Bisping’s previously mentioned tendency of getting hurt in the vast majority of his fights over the last 3 years. The pattern first began when he was put out cold by Dan Henderson’s signature right hand. In his very next two fights, he was dropped in the first round by Denis Kang & in the 3rd by Wanderlei Silva. Then against Yoshihiro Akiyama & Jorge Rivera, both of his opponents were able to wobble him with hard right hands. And most recently, against Brian Stann, he was hit so hard that his face was contorted into making an identical knockout- face to the one we saw when he was stiffened up by Dan Henderson  in 2009. 

Vitor Belfort, meanwhile, has made it out of the second round just once in the last 5 years. Before getting subbed by Jon Jones in September, his 5 previous fights had all ended in the first round. When you go back and review his 31 fight career, you’ll find that he sports a very mediocre record of 6-7 in his past fights that ended up making it out of the first round. 

For Bisping, that invites a very straightforward gameplan for defeating Belfort in this match. If he can stay on his bicycle for the majority of the first round, the eventual upping of his volume, and the general pacing of the fight should gradually begin wearing on Vitor heading into the final three rounds of the match, where I expect Bisping to earn another one of his vintage accumulate-based TKOs’.

As previously mentioned, I have no issue with those who are banking on Vitor’s blitzing speed catching Bisping with a knockout blow early in the fight, and once the full list of props are released at 5dimes, we may even see a smidge of UFC betting value on the first round TKO prop on Belfort. However, for now, the only two plays worth making are Fight won’t go 5 round distance at -195 & Michael Bisping SU at -105.

UFC Predictions: Fight won’t go distance -195 & Michael Bisping -105 at 5dimes.com

Featured Main-card Attractions'

Also highlighting this card will be a clash of UFC heavyweights as Ben Rothwell takes on Brazilian submission expert Gabriel Gonzaga. 

Given the current odds of +103, I find myself marginally siding with the much more mentally resilient fighter in Rothwell. While a first round sub is a definite concern going up against one of the better heavyweight grapplers in the division, I see Rothwell's pressure and slight striking edge eventually breaking Gonzaga late into the second round.

The other mentally fragile Brazilian who I’m looking to bet against on this card is Thiago Tavares , who will be taking on undefeated Russian fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Khabib can be rather sloppy and chaotic with his offense at times, but his pressure and superior physical strength is perfectly capable of exposing the same weakness that got Thiago knocked out in the past by both Matt Wiman & Shane Roller.

I just don’t see Thiago responding well against someone who’s going to consistently stay in his face while willingly absorbing the best shots he has to offer. If it wasn’t for Sam Stout’s conservatively passive nature at times , Thiago likely would have been TKO’d in the third round of that fight as well, which would have been his 3rd knockout loss in his last 8 fights.

Currently, the line seems to be trending back towards pinnacle’s opening price of -150, so my advice would be to wait on placing your sports picks until after weigh-ins to see if we can possibly snag the Russian at -145 or better.