Pros Pick: Silva vs. Belfort

Pros Pick

By Mike Sloan Feb 3, 2011
Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort will collide at UFC 126. |

Super Saturday has often served as the staging ground for significant fights between high-profile UFC stars. UFC 126 “Silva vs. Belfort” falls in line this Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, as light heavyweight showdowns pairing Rich Franklin with Forrest Griffin and Jon Jones with Ryan Bader serve as the appetizers.

In the main event, two of the most dangerous and dynamic strikers in MMA history will vie for the UFC middleweight crown, as defending champion Anderson Silva puts his title on the line against Vitor Belfort. recently caught up with dozens of professional trainers and fighters to gauge their opinions on the long-awaited duel between Silva and Belfort:

Fred Ettish: Anderson vs. Vitor is a tough one, as most of them are in this sport. So many ways things can go, especially with two of the best, past and present. If Anderson comes serious, comes to fight and takes care of business, he should come out ahead in a tough fight. His last loss was over five years ago, and the list of his victims since then is littered with some of the top names and tough guys of the sport in his division: [Rich] Franklin (twice), [Chael] Sonnen, [Demian] Maia, [Dan] Henderson, [Thales] Leites and more. I do not pretend to understand his in-cage antics in some of those fights, but he has been pushed hard by Sonnen and by Henderson in the first rounds of their fights. Those two wins, especially coming back against Sonnen so late in the fight, are wins that are defining, in my honest opinion. Vitor can very well take this, and I have enjoyed watching him since the 19-year-old phenom exploded on the scene, leaving sleeping bodies in his wake. I just don’t think he will this time. The fighters that have given Anderson the toughest time are guys who have been wrestling since they were each knee high to a puppy. Vitor is strong and explosive and has likely trained a lot of wrestling, but that is not the same as being a lifelong wrestler. I’m not sure Vitor can keep Anderson down. I also don’t think he will be able to submit Anderson. I believe Vitor’s way to win the fight is with his speed and striking on the feet. I think Anderson’s precision striking and footwork will not allow Vitor to be effective enough. Vitor has his share of wins in the same time period as Anderson, including his win over Franklin, but he does not have the number of quality wins over that period Anderson does, and Anderson’s have been mostly title defenses. Anderson via TKO later in the fight, maybe round four.

Jonathan Chaimberg: I think the matchup is a great one for Silva. It’s one of the first fights for him in a while where he can focus on his creative striking game and not worry about being taken down or out-grappled; that is key. Vitor’s cage rust will also be a factor. Look for fireworks early and Anderson winning early in the second round.

Mike Constantino: I think Silva will use his timing to counter Vitor, take a couple rounds to find his distance and then win via KO in the third round.

Nate Marquardt: I think Silva’s footwork will be too much for Belfort to handle. I see Silva winning a decision or a third round or later TKO.

Tom Vaughn: Belfort has all the right tools but doesn’t seem convincing against top competition. There will probably be a cautious feeling-out process out of mutual respect that should work in Silva’s favor. Silva is great at dissecting an opponent over the duration of a fight. For that reason, Belfort should get on Silva from the start and hope he can land something big with his lightning-quick hands early in the fight. Don’t think so; Silva by TKO in round three.  

Marlon Sandro: I think Anderson wins a judges’ decision. I think Vitor only has a chance in the first two rounds. Everything favors Anderson because he’s more active, but I think Vitor is the most dangerous adversary for Anderson.

Joaquim Ferreira: I think it will be a close fight because Vitor is also an excellent athlete, but I think that Anderson wins by TKO in the third round.

Thiago Tavares: Silva dominates the fight and wins by unanimous decision.

Luis Ramos: I think Anderson wins by knockout in the second round.

Nick Thompson: This fight reminds me of something from my childhood. Derrick Noble’s and my father had been appointed by the court to defend a man who was accused of raping a young woman. Derrick’s and my faith in justice was badly shaken when the jury convicted the man despite our father having shown, in court, that the accuser was lying. The accuser’s father was so upset over his being humiliated in court that he attacked Derrick and me on our way home from our school’s Halloween pageant. The accuser’s father had just broken Derrick’s arm and was about to do worse, when, out of nowhere, the town recluse saved us.   

Jeremy Luchau: Silva wins by TKO or KO in the late second or early third round after finding his rhythm and precision counter strikes.

Jason Lambert: Hard to pick; very interesting matchup. Pick ’em.

Adam Singer: Do not take my pick and go to Vegas, unless you do the opposite of my choices. I have gotten the last four in a row wrong. So here goes: I think Vitor will stand up with Silva. This plays right into “The Spider’s” plans. Siva by KO in round three.

Robin Black: This is either going to be a mind-blowingly exciting three minutes or a painfully excruciating 25 minutes. Let’s hope for the former and a new champion.

Neil Melanson: Vitor is going to win.

Josh Thomson: Anderson by TKO in the second or third round.

Patrick Cote: I’ll go with Belfort. I think he will be too fast for Silva, and he’s a southpaw, like [Chael] Sonnen. Vitor will put a lot of pressure and catch him with a big left cross.

Nam Phan: I say Anderson Silva [wins].

Rex Richards: As much as I would prefer Vitor to win, I think his time off from fighting will hurt him in this fight and Silva will win by TKO in the fourth round. I’m a huge fan of both but remember a young vicious Belfort from the 1990s.

Keith Berry: Wow, this is an explosive fight. I’ve trained a bit with both of these guys, and I have to say I think Vitor will pull off the upset. I think it’s crazy to think he’s almost a 3-to-1 underdog, but I’m going to say Vitor by third-round TKO.

Kit Cope: The “fastest hands Vitor” thing is overhyped. Anderson is too slick and doesn’t move in straight lines. I’m callin’ this one Silva with style. Do a little dance, make a little love and choke Vitor unconscious.

Ron Frazier: I’m very biased here. I was the first coach to ever work with Belfort when he came to Xtreme Couture before the Terry Martin fight. All I can say is this is the best training camp he has had in the four he has been with us. It has been a joy. He has worked harder and smarter than ever before, working with six-time world kickboxing champ Ray Sefo and Gil Martinez, who has 20-plus years in the boxing game at a high level. He will have Neil Melanson working with his grappling, Jayme [Sandall], a karate world champion from Brazil, and, of course, the man himself, Randy Couture. He has prepared himself to become champion, and on top of all that, he is a different animal than Anderson has faced before. He is just as good a striker, if not better, with great footwork and faster hands. This fight will be a great one. I’m expecting a Belfort win by KO -- not sure which round.

Travis Lutter: If this fight happened before the last fight [with Sonnen], I would have picked Anderson for sure, but that fight throws doubts. With that being said, I am taking Anderson in this one, but I’m not as sure as I was.

Mike Easton: Vitor, I think, is going to win.

Ray Elbe: Belfort by submission. Long live Carlson Gracie.

Gabe Ruediger: I’m going with Ruediger by finish in the first. Oh, you meant the actual main event -- Anderson by submission or TKO in the third round.

Gerald Harris: I’m going to honestly flip a coin on this one. I have no idea who will win, but I’ll be watching.

Benji Radach: I pick Belfort by TKO or KO in the first few rounds. Otherwise, I see Anderson turning it up in the later rounds for a decision win.

Stephane Vigneault: I [hope] Belfort wins because Belfort was my first idol and pretty much was the first idol of everybody after his debut in the UFC. But, realistically, if Belfort [does] not KO Silva in round one, Silva will win in round three [by] submission or TKO. But I will scream, “Let’s go Vitor!”

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