Vitor Belfort looks to get another high profile win as he faces off against new middleweight addition Kelvin Gastelum. It’s a tough fight for both men but for different reasons. But before I delve into the analysis, I do want to touch on the fact that Belfort is truly a monster. To be in this sport for over twenty years and still be considered a live dog is something truly special. But Kelvin Gastelum is no joke and if Belfort is going to beat him, he’ll need the perfect game plan going in.
Kelvin Gastelum has had his troubles making down to welterweight which forced the UFC’s hand in sending the prospect up to middleweight. Where it seemed like Gastelum would have trouble with larger opposition, he instead opened many eyes with his thrashing of middleweight veteran Tim Kennedy. After facing adversity in the opening round, Gastelum used his speed advantage to rattle off fast, slick combinations that eventually left Kennedy broken. Gastelum will want to strike in this match as well but also mix in his strong wrestling as well. Belfort is still blindingly fast and extended exchanges could prove to be Gastelum’s undoing. A nice blast double under a failed Belfort straight left could certainly be the tool Gastelum needs to outduel the veteran.
On the other side of the equation, Vitor Belfort had definitely seen brighter days. Age, and a lack of TRT, is catching up with ‘The Phenom’ who lost his last two bouts against Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza. Neither of those fighters are cakewalks, but the ease in which they were able to dismantle Belfort gives one a feeling of foreboding heading into this match. But Vitor Belfort has never been one to back down from a challenge so he intends to show the young gun Gastelum he still has some juice left. What Belfort will have to do is put doubt in the young man early. A southpaw counter fighter, Belfort will have to make Gastelum pay for staying in the pocket. Gastelum himself is a southpaw which will make certain counters easier, a pull counter and a counter right hook comes to mind. When Gastelum comes into strike Belfort will have to counter sharply or at least give the young prospect something to worry about every time he rushes in. Keeping his back off the cage will be essential to avoiding wrestling clinches, takedowns and a barrage of strikes as Gastelum enjoys great success beating the breaks off fighters along the fence. A strong pivot out after every exchange will both get Belfort’s hips out of danger for a takedown as well as potential open up the left straight or uppercut should he feel compelled to use it. Countering off of Gastelum kicks should also be a priority for the former light heavyweight champion.
Will this be the swan song of the great Vitor Belfort? Will Kelvin Gastelum cement himself as a legit middleweight contender? Guess we’re all gonna have to tune in to see.