Home News MMA Analysis: A Look at Chris Weidman vs Vitor Belfort

Analysis: A Look at Chris Weidman vs Vitor Belfort

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Chris-Weidman
Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.

As soon as Dana White wrapped the belt around Chris Weidman’s waist after finishing Anderson Silva for a second time, the entire fight world knew what the champion’s next task was going to be. Weidman will next defend his belt against former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort in one of the most anticipated bouts of the upcoming year.

The match-up is very intriguing for many reasons, and we’ll analyze every angle of the fight below.

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Striking

Vitor Belfort is one of the most dangerous strikers in MMA today. Belfort possesses dynamite in his hands, and is currently riding a three fight knockout streak over the likes of Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson. Chris Weidman entered the UFC as not much more than a wrestler, but has greatly developed his striking game. Weidman showed vastly improved striking with a standing elbow knockout of Mark Munoz, and finished one of the best strikers in MMA history, Anderson Silva, twice on the feet. However, Belfort is a far more dangerous striker than Munoz and moves forward in a way that Anderson Silva does not, which gives Weidman a challenge unlike any he has ever faced.

Belfort should have an edge in striking over Weidman but don’t count the champion out on the feet.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Takedowns

In the same way that Vitor Belfort is one of the best strikers in MMA, Chris Weidman is one of the best wrestlers in the sport. Weidman showed dominant wrestling in his bouts with Anderson Silva, Mark Munoz, Tom Lawlor, and Alessio Sakara. His fight with Munoz was particularly impressive as he was never taken down by the Oklahoma State wrestler, and went two for two in takedowns of his own.

Belfort has struggled with strong wrestlers in the past, which makes this an area of the fight that he must focus on during his preparation. The last two good wrestlers Belfort faced both gave him fits in their respective fights. Jon Jones was able to take Belfort down on his only takedown attempt in their entire fight, and Belfort was laos taken down often by Anthony Johnson in their bout. If Belfort wants to win this fight, he must not let Weidman dictate where the fight takes place.

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Grappling

Chris Weidman’s wrestling advantage over Belfort is huge, but things are much more evenly matched when the fight gets to the mat. Weidman has only won three of his fights via submission but has shown great transitions and a wide variety of submissions. We’ve seen Weidman choke out Jesse Bongfeldt and Tom Lawlor, but his first fight with Anderson Silva was his best performances on the mat. Weidman was able to keep dominant top position over Silva the entire first round, and threatened the all-time great with a kneebar.

Belfort meanwhile is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has shown small samples of it in his fights with Jon Jones and Anthony Johnson. After being taken down in the first round by Jon Jones, Belfort almost submitted the light heavyweight king with an armbar from the bottom. In his fight with Anthony Johnson, Belfort showed an ability to get back to his feet when taken down, and capitalized on a gassed out Johnson, submitting him towards the end of the first round.

If the fight goes to the mat it will likely be courtesy of a Chris Weidman takedownm but Belfort can more than hold his own there. I still give Weidman an edge in grappling due to his wrestling transitions combined with solid Jiu-Jitsu, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Belfort was able to threaten with submissions from the bottom.

2014 is already shaping up to be a solid year for MMA but the bout between Weidman and Belfort is one of the best of the year so far. Let’s see if our analysis comes true come fight time!

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Daniel Reveles
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, California, Daniel Reveles' interest in Mixed Martial Arts began at the age of fourteen while attending a Fantasy Football draft at a Friend's house. That day Daniel's buddies ordered UFC 88 on Pay-Per-View featuring lauded striker and hometown hero Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell squaring off with Division One Wrestler “Suga” Rashad Evans. After seeing “the wrestler” Rashad Evans put the Ice Man out cold with an overhand right, Daniel became instantly hooked by the unpredictability of the sport. Since that moment Daniel has become well versed in Mixed Martial Arts History and has yet to miss an event. Daniel is currently studying at the University of California Santa Barbara to receive his Bachelor's Degree in Communications with hopes of becoming the next big media mogul. When he is not watching MMA or studying you can find Daniel hanging out with his family and friends or taking in a game at the lovely Dodger Stadium.
  • Keith R

    You are forgetting to mention that Weidman qualified for the ADCC World Grappling Championships after only 1 year of submission grappling training! He made it to the quarter-finals before BARELY losing to a two-time ADCC champion. If Weidman was to face the same guy again, he would destroy him, since Weidman has a lot more grappling experience now.

    Having a black belt is cute, but you have to prove it at the highest levels of grappling. Weidman HAS proved that he can compete and beat the worlds best grapplers. Belfort hasn’t.

    In sum, Vitor Belfort doesn’t stand a chance on the ground against Weidman.

    • Probably a valid point but this assumes Weidman will get the takedown. If Vitor is on his feet then he has a pretty good chance at standing toe to toe with Weidman.

      • Keith R

        I agree that Belfort is dangerous on the feet—I am not denying that fact; however,Belfort has struggled in the past against takedowns.

        In addition, his last three wins were against guys who had no where near the grappling skills of Weidman. Henderson is an aging Greco-Roman wrestler with no submission skills. As we both know, Greco-Roman wrestling is not nearly as effective as freestyle wrestling is when it comes to takedowns in mma.

        Furthermore, many people don’t realize that there is more to striking than hitting your opponent with spectacular strikes. For example, avoiding getting hit is a skill in itself. Weidman proved against Silva (one of the best strikers ever) that he knows how to avoid getting tagged. Trust me, Silva wanted to take his head off, but Weidman didn’t give him that opportunity.

        If Belfort comes after Weidman aggressively on his feet, than it will make it easier for Weidman to take him down. That is why Silva looked apprehensive in the last fight against Weidman, because he knew he had to be patient and look for an opening rather than charging at Weidman.