Preview: UFC Fight Night 124 ‘Stephens vs. Choi’

Belfort vs. Hall

By Jordan Breen Jan 12, 2018


Vitor Belfort (26-13, 1 NC) vs. Uriah Hall (13-8)

ODDS: Hall (-325), Belfort (+265)

ANALYSIS: In what he has advertised as his last fight in the UFC -- whether that is a negotiating ploy or not is up for debate -- a 40-year-old Belfort, after over two decades as a professional prizefighter, is going to try to turn back the clock once more. In his opponent, he gets a fellow enigmatic personality and flashy knockout artist, the latter of which was likely a consideration with Belfort potentially entering free agency.

Belfort is still Belfort, just an aged incarnation. He remains a low-output counter-boxer, probing distance and patrolling the pocket until he can land one sudden left cross and then unload hell on a dazed foe. In his infamous testosterone era, Belfort suddenly supplemented his striking game with a bevy of high-octane kicking offense, which he then shockingly used to knock out everybody and their mother in 2013. As evidenced in his iffy decision win in June over the recently retired Nate Marquardt, Belfort still uses these same weapons in the same ways he always has. “The Phenom” lands a staggeringly low 1.63 significant strikes per minute, forever relying on his ability to land one big one and then 12 others in the blink of an eye to end matters. This is the same old Vitor, just slower.

Despite being a Brazilian who has spent so much time in California and Florida, with the money to do training camp anywhere, Belfort has inexplicably opted once more to train at Tristar MMA in Montreal during the winter. If anything, Firas Zahabi’s measured and conservative approach to coaching has really served to accentuate the realities of Belfort’s aging, as there are even fewer of those sudden, jaw-dropping bursts of offense now.

Speaking of sudden, jaw-dropping bursts of offense, they are about all Hall has at his disposal. By now, he is well-tenured as an “Ultimate Fighter” disappointment due to his unnatural physical abilities and kyokushin karate-inspired twirling. He has natural punching power, to boot, as evidenced in his last outing, where he sparked Krzysztof Jotko with an overhand right and pounded him out. Like Belfort, when “Primetime” hurts his target, his follow-up shots are accurate and devastating. Also akin to Belfort, Hall spends most of his time slowly stalking and feinting with tension, as if he were a coiled snake. However, Hall is still more reliably active, naturally jabbing and kicking more from range.

Hall has five inches of reach and seven years of youth on Belfort, who was fighting professionally when the two-time Ring of Combat champion was in middle school. The Brazilian needed a favorable decision to beat the positively shopworn Marquardt mere months ago. Plain and simple and all TRT jokes aside, Belfort is faded and that is what this comes down to. Ironically, this seems like exactly the sort of matchup where, if it happened in Belfort’s prime, he would go into wrestler mode and exploit both Hall’s mediocre takedown defense and dreadful guard game. Regardless of how much Hall may or may not have improved since hooking up with Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, a more recent version of Belfort would thrash him on the floor. At this point, though, Belfort losing that extra step or two athletically would make Wrestler Vitor easier prey for the always-hunting Hall.

Hall is hittable -- he absorbs 3.16 significant strikes per minute -- and has been rocked, flashed and knocked out in the past, so if Belfort has one great left cross or hook-uppercut combo, he needs it here. If he does, I cannot imagine the insanity of his post-fight interview. Still, this is 2018, and Belfort is not “the young dinosaur” anymore; he is actively fossilizing. Hall wins by knockout, potentially in spectacular fashion, inside of seven minutes.

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