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Vitor Belfort: Pro Boxer

Vitor Belfort and Anderson SilvaYesterday we took a look at Anderson Silva as part 1 of our LiverKick.com take on Saturday’s big UFC 126 showdown between Silva and Vitor Belfort.  If you missed it, be sure to read that article here for a look at Silva’s Muay Thai and Pro Boxing careers.  Today, part 2 as we examine the boxing career of Saturday’s challenger: “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort.

Belfort’s career as a boxer has many similarities to Silva’s.  Belfort has just one pro boxing bout to his name, and like Silva, Belfort’s opponent was another one and done fighter.  But while Silva tried his hand at boxing just before hitting his MMA peak, Vitor’s boxing debut came at a very different point on his career trajectory.

Belfort made his boxing debut in April 2006, and while it was a small show in Brazil, there were many eyes on the fight.  Because Vitor Belfort was only a year removed from his 2nd UFC run and the classic series of fights with Chuck Liddell, Marvin Eastman, Randy Couture, and Tito Ortiz.  In the time since leaving the UFC, he had taken two fights (including his first encounter with Alistair Overeem); he had also spoken openly about his plans to compete as a boxer.

The idea of Vitor Belfort as a boxer makes a lot of sense.  Despite talk of his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu pedigree, Vitor is and always has been a largely one dimensional MMA fighter, using his hand speed and power throughout his career (Belfort did try out a new wrestling based style in Pride, which was successful, though incredibly boring).  And so fans were interested in what kind of skills Belfort the boxer would bring to the table when he met Josemario Neves.

As it turns out, Vitor Belfort the boxer is not much different from Vitor Belfort the MMA fighter, which in all honesty is not a bad thing.  Belfort’s strength has always been his boxing, so for him to focus on those skills and really keep his game tuned to this strength is a smart move.  And here we do see some nice examples of Belfort tightening up his technique.  One quick exchange I like comes when Neves tries to trap Belfort against the ropes.  Once he has Vitor pushed back, Neves goes for a punch, but Belfort ducks the punch and steps out to the side, escaping the punch and the bad positioning in one fluid motion.

This fight really displays Vitor’s greatest strength – the killer instinct and knowledge of when to finish a fight.  Belfort is one of the best at this in the history of MMA – once he tags you, he simply unloads until you are done.  If you watch Vitor’s left hand here you can see when he decides to switch gears and end the fight.  For the majority of the fight, he keeps that left hand high and close to his chin in a very strong defensive position, ready to block any incoming punches.  Once he hurts Neves just before the first knockdown, he gives up that defense in favor of landing as many heavy shots as he can as quickly as he can.  In some ways it’s a gamble – leaving yourself open to go for the kill can get you hit – but Belfort knows when to time it so that he stays safe.  It’s telling that Belfort has used that flurry to KO numerous opponents, but never once has an opponent landed a counter strike to drop Belfort during these rapid fire attacks.

One other interesting aspect from this fight is that, because this is boxing and not MMA, Vitor needs to do more than just overwhelm his opponent once suddenly – he needs to hurt him enough to keep him down or continue the assault after his opponent has time to recover.  Here, Vitor’s power is not enough to keep Neves down for a 10 count, but it is enough that after the first knockdown, the fight is essentially over.  The moment they begin to exchange again after that initial knockdown, it’s clear that Neves has nothing left to offer.  Vitor swarms him again, then once more for the 3 knockdown victory.

When he faces Anderson Silva tomorrow night, all it will take is one opening for Vitor to launch that rapid fire attack, overwhelm Silva once, and again become UFC champion (though hopefully this time it will be a bit more legitimate).  What’s tricky for Belfort is that, while no man has yet countered that quick attack, if there’s any man to do it, it’s Silva.  Will Silva give Belfort the opening he needs?  And if he does, will the sublime striking we know Silva is capable of be able to save him?  We’ll know soon enough.

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UPDATED: Melvin Manhoef Fighting in Strikeforce March 5

(C) Susumug.comSometimes being Marvelous means people will get confused when they talk about you, apparently that is what is going on with "Marvelous" Melvin Manhoef. Earlier today, MMAJunkie broke some news that Melvin Manhoef will be fighting for Strikeforce on March 5th against Tim Kennedy. Tim was originally slated to fight Luke Rockhold, but that fell through.

Ever the vigilant fight fan, Bloodstain Lane (yes, Bloodstain Lane) so artfully told everyone on Twitter that Melvin Manhoef was not fighting Tim Kennedy, that it was faulty information. Manhoef was going to be fighting on that card, but that is not his opponent. So, now this evening, Manhoef himself cleared the air about his upcoming fight: Melvin Manhoef will be facing Luke Rockhold at Strikeforce: Columbus.

We'll have to wait to see what the official word from Strikeforce is, as well as what will become of Tim Kennedy, but Melvin Manhoef fighting again in the US means that we can expect fireworks for sure. With only one armbar win to his credit, Rockhold does not seem to pose a threat to Manhoef's kryptonite of sorts, but Rockhold is a strong wrestler with an impressive four rear naked choke victories. He has never faced a striker as dynamic, powerful and skilled as Melvin, so he should look out.

Manhoef's career has spanned K-1, It's Showtime, DREAM, HERO*s, Cage Rage and more. Manhoef has knocked opponents out all over the world, 27 times in kickboxing competition, 23 times in MMA competition. Rockhold is in for the fight of his life.

UPDATE: Melvin Manhoef was armbarred by the internet, it seems, as he just moments ago announced on his Twitter that Luke is injured and that he'll be fighting Tim Kennedy. The news, it just comes slower in the Netherlands, alright?

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Strikeforce Heavyweight GP in Japan Will Air Live in the US

Alistair Overeem (C) FEGWe've had a lot of rumors lately about Strikeforce moving over to promote a show in Japan, with an arbitrary date tossed around of April 9th. It turns out, from sources close to Real Entertainment who spoke with our good friend and former contributor Mike Hackler of MMA-Japan.com, that the show will be April 10th in Japan during the afternoon.

What this means is that the show will take place in the mid-afternoon in Japan on April 10th so that it can air live in the United States on Showtime. This has been one of the main criticisms that I've seen towards the Strikeforce in Japan show; that it probably would be airing on tape delay in the United States and as most fans are antsy to get the latest news, the event would be spoiled and viewers would not tune in to watch the event. This has been an ongoing issue for UFC when they have international cards and do not adjust the show to be live in the US.

I feel as if a lot of people are not giving Scott Coker the proper credit here, as he has a handle on promoting cards internationally and what needs to be done to make it all work out for everyone. The event will host a few fights from the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP, most likely Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum as well as Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers. M-1 might also be thrown into the mix, as Fedor Emelianenko is rumored for the card, making it a co-promotion between Real Entertainment, Strikeforce, Showtime and M-1 Global.

There should also be a few Lightweight bouts in place, possibly from the rumored Real Entertainment and Strikeforce Lightweight GP we mentioned previously. There are lots of names of top Japanese Lightweights being thrown around, including Tatsuya Kawajiri and Shinya Aoki, considered two of Japan's top Lightweights. But for now, we'll wait and see, as with anything in Japan, things can change in a heartbeat. [source]

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Daniel Woirin Breaks Down Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort at UFC 126

Daniel WoirinThere aren't many men considered "experts" in training with both fighters for this weekend's UFC 126 Middleweight Title Fight, but Daniel Woirin knows Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort very well. Woirin has trained both Anderson and Vitor in Muay Thai in Brazil, as well as Lyoto Machida. Woirin now lives in the United States, working with Dan Henderson's Team Quest as their Muay Thai coach.

Our good friends at Riddum.com caught up with Woirin to ask him to weigh in on this fight, and it sounds like his opinion falls in line with what most think; Vitor has to force Anderson out of his comfort zone and use his superior speed to his advantage. [source]

Riddum.com: How do you see their fight unfolding and what will be the key to victory for each fighter?

Daniel Woirin: Anderson is taller and has more weapons standing up than Vitor. He will probably work from a long range and try to frustrate Belfort with counters and defensive lateral movement, but also with the clinch in the short range when Belfort reduces the distance.

Vitor has great boxing and he will need to close the distance. He will need to fight from mid-range and for that, he will have to set up his offenses by utilizing feints in order to avoid Anderson's counters.

If Vitor Belfort wants to win, he will have to provoke Anderson Silva and take risks.

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