Pros Pick: Silva vs. Belfort

Striker’s Delight

By Mike Sloan Feb 3, 2011
Vitor Belfort (standing) still has some of the quickest hands in MMA. | Dave Mandel/

Bill Mesi: Vitor looks for that opening to pounce and straight blast your face into row six, but I think he could be looking for his opening for quite some time. Anderson will melt him from the outside and try to engage as little as possible and grind out his trademark “who cares anymore” kind of decision.

Mike Ciesnolevicz: I would love to see Belfort win the title and shake up the division. Common sense tells me that Anderson is probably too much for him. Belfort always has a chance with a flurry of punches early in the fight, but I believe Anderson is the more well-rounded striker and will frustrate Belfort with kicks and footwork as the fight progresses. I think Belfort might hit some takedowns, but the BJJ will likely cancel each other out. Hmm … on second thought, Belfort by KO. Chael Sonnen landed some heavy shots on Anderson, so I think Belfort can do the same. New 185-pound champ.

Gustavo Machado: I think Anderson wins by knockout in the third round.

Fabio Maldonado: Both can win by knockout, but I give the advantage for Anderson, 60 to 40 percent. I think Anderson wins by decision

Erick Silva: I think Anderson wins by knockout in the third round.

Marcelo Gomes: It will definitely be a great fight. I believe that Anderson pulls Vitor into his game, taking advantage of the five rounds. But this is a fight without favorites. A knockout by Vitor in the first round is a result that would not surprise me. I’m anxious to see this fight.

Jason Dent: I’m a huge fan of both these guys. I’ll be happy regardless the outcome. However, I have been a fan of Vitor like forever and a day, so I’m pulling for him. Anderson is awesome, so if Vitor doesn’t show up with his “A” game, he’s in trouble. I think Vitor has the hand speed to catch Anderson and possibly KO him, and I also think Vitor’s takedowns are good enough to get Silva to the ground, as well. Vitor by TKO in round two is my prediction. Can’t wait for this fight. I love this matchup.

Cung Le: Silva by decision.

Matt Hamilton: Two of the most schizophrenic fighters ever. You never know which one is going to show up. The difference is, when Anderson shows up looking like s--t, he still wins. I have been wrong every ‘Pros Pick’ I can remember, so since I think Anderson will win by stoppage in the third round, I will officially pick “old Vitor” via KO in round one.

Rashad Evans: Victory by everybody. Good job, boys. I’m very proud of everyone.

Jared Hamman: I’m a big fan of Belfort, but Anderson is on another level with his whole game. Anderson by TKO in the third -- after a little dancing and jiving.

Jonathan Goulet: Even if I really like Vitor, I hope Silva will win so we will be closer to see a fight against [Georges St. Pierre] and him. So let’s say third round, Anderson by TKO.

Kultar Gill: I’ve always been a Belfort fan since he burst on the scene in the early UFCs. I don’t see this fight going to the ground, so I have go with Anderson due to his reach and muay Thai experience. Anderson by decision.

Bobby Southworth: This is a great matchup of two of the most gifted strikers to ever grace the Octagon. However, both fighters have exhibited the same weakness, and it doesn’t lie in the area of conditioning or technical proficiency. It’s the arena of the mind, which is 90 percent of the fight game. It’s all about which fighter shows up mentally prepared for battle. If one doesn’t, the fight will obviously play out in favor of his opponent. If both fighters show up, we’ll be in for a treat. Both fighters are great strikers, with different styles but equal boxing ability. Anderson has the edge with muay Thai. He can slow Vitor down with leg kicks, and when that happens he’ll have the edge in speed. His reach and funky angles will come into play, and he can stop Vitor with strikes. For Vitor, I think this fight favors him if he takes it to the ground. His BJJ pedigree far surpasses Anderson’s, and his wrestling is superior, as well. If he can get it to the ground, he can ground-and-pound or submit Anderson. Too tough to call.

Duke Roufus: Vitor has the best chance of winning the fight early, and Anderson does better as the fight goes on. It is going to be one of the best middleweight title fights of all-time.

Charlie Brenneman: Vitor was very nice when I met him in Oakland last August. He ate breakfast with my family and me twice. I’ve never eaten breakfast -- or any other meal for that matter -- with Anderson. For that reason, I’m going to go with Vitor via split decision.

Ron Foster: On paper, this is one of the best fights in a long time. Both fighters are great strikers and BJJ black belts. The truth of the matter is this: Vitor Belfort is good boxer and Anderson Silva is a great MMA striker. I see Anderson easily avoiding the quick hands of Belfort by using a variety angles and low kicks, never allowing Belfort to set his feet long enough to throw any big shots. Anderson will either stay all the way inside, where he will punish Vitor in the Thai clinch, or all the way on the outside, where Silva will use his long reach advantage as well as kicks to keep Belfort at bay. I see this fight going like this. It starts off very slow paced, with both fighter feeling each other out and Silva testing the distance with a few jabs and kicks. As the pace begins to pick up, Belfort is getting hit more and more and has no answers to “The Spider” Silva riddle. I see Vitor getting frustrated and going in for a desperation takedown and getting subbed late second or early third round. Let’s be honest here guys. Vitor Belfort is a great fighter, but styles make fights, and this is probably the worst possible matchup for him -- a much better striker with better cardio who is much better on the ground. Vitor Belfort has no more than a puncher’s chance in this fight, and Silva will retain his title. Silva via sub or TKO, late second, early third.

Stav Economou: Such an interesting fight, but I just feel that Vitor has been inactive for too long, and the longer this fight goes, the better it will be for Anderson. If it goes past round two, then Silvia will take it via TKO.

Tim Kennedy: I think Belfort has all the tools to beat Silva. Silva has never fought anyone with his striking ability, and Belfort is ever more dangerous on the ground. I think as long as Belfort doesn’t get lulled into fighting on Silva’s timing he should walk away with the win. Belfort by second-round TKO.

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