UFC 103 Post-Mortem: Belfort, Daley Issue Statements

By Jake Rossen Sep 21, 2009
Of all the athletes who promised to reenact some of their better days Saturday, Vitor Belfort might have been considered the least likely to succeed.

A returning Frank Trigg had amassed a tight 7-2 record since leaving the UFC in 2005; Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic swore up, down, and sideways that surgery had left him a new man. Belfort? Coming off two impressive victories at 185 pounds, he was fighting 10 pounds heavier, was prone to frequently disappointing…and looked somewhat depressed.

A hanging head might be expected. Being Belfort involves a weird amalgamation of having incredible expectations layered on top of none: in 1997, he was considered a blitzing badass with unlimited potential. By 2000, he was written off as mentally knocked out. And for the next decade, he alternated moments of promise with flat performances that completely froze audience enthusiasm.

Saturday, carrying a loose-looking 195 pounds on his body, he became only the second man in the UFC to stop Rich Franklin. It wasn’t broad -- Franklin dropped to a subtle attack, then submitted in posture -- but it did the expected job of convincing people Belfort had finally found a happy medium between performing and relaxing. There probably isn’t a “New” and “Old” Vitor, easily the most exhausted chart in the sport -- just a Belfort who sometimes crumbled under the weight of his own celebrity.

The news was less encouraging for Filipovic and Trigg. Filipovic spent his fifth UFC fight looking much like he had in his first four: lethargic, slow, and happy to evade rather than engage. For fans who remember his heyday in Pride, which almost always involved a stretcher, it was a sad footnote to a stellar career. Those bouts used to give fans palpitations over what Filipovic would do to his opponent: today, that anxiety is over Mirko himself.

Trigg barely had time to warm up before Koscheck -- younger, hungrier, and mouthier -- settled in and let his hands go. 2-4 in the promotion, it’ll be hard to justify many more rounds.

This is what the sport is about: finding out who still belongs.

Next for Belfort: Anderson Silva -- or Wanderlei Silva in a 185 lb. rematch. In Brazil.

Next for Franklin: A focus on the 205-pound division: Brian Stann if he wants to ease himself in, Jon Jones if not.

Next for Junior dos Santos: Gabriel Gonzaga, who could test his mat work.

Next for “Cro Cop”: An exit strategy.

Next for Josh Koscheck: Harping Joe Silva for a spot in October or November. But is there anyone to fight?

Next for Paul Daley: According to Dana White, potentially Mike Swick.
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