UFC 159 fight card: Michael Bisping vs Alan Belcher fight prediction, preview and breakdown

Photo by Esther Lin for MMAFighting.com

Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher, both of whom are coming off disappointing losses, will look to inject themselves back into the 185-pound title chase at each others' expense at UFC 159 tonight with a statement victory. However, only one man can prevail in the end. Will it be "The Count" or "The Talent?" Jason Probst for MMAmania.com breaks it all down below.

Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher suffered serious setbacks in key No. 1 Middleweight contender showdowns in their last mixed martial arts (MMA) matches, making their185-pound clash later this evening (Sat., April 27, 2013) at UFC 159, which takes place at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., perhaps a dire straits case for both fighters in terms of securing an elusive title shot in the near future.

Belcher’s size and power advantages make him a real handful in the style match up, but Bisping has a kind of adaptability to work around his deficits and turn fights into tests of cardio and strategy as opposed to brute strength.

For Bisping to win this one he must control the pace and dictate where the fight goes almost always. Otherwise, he is going to have a rough night because he lacks the one-shot power to take out Belcher and/or turn the tide dramatically.

Check out a complete breakdown of the UFC 159 co-main event between Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher below:

The Breakdown

A key element in this bout is which guy gets the advantage standing, forcing a decision by the other, who’ll have to change stand up tactics or try and score takedowns to flip the script.

For pure wrestling horsepower, Belcher might have more takedown mojo, but Bisping’s takedown defense is very good, and it could be a stalemate on both ends. Neither figures to submit the other, though Belcher’s ground-and-pound is heavier, and he just brings more physical force to the equation.

Conditioning is definitely in Bisping’s favor -- he never lacks for cardio. However, how he recovers after the blowout knockout loss to Vitor Belfort in his most recent Octagon appearance is a real wild card, too. Will he respond aggressively if tagged by Belcher’s big shots or retreat?

An aggressive Belcher is a tough guy to beat, and Bisping will have to adopt a strategy of patient, clever counter-strikes to make the kind of fight that favors him best. Meanwhile, an all-out, crowd-pleasing brawl increases Belcher’s chances significantly, especially if they’re trading leg kicks, elbowing and battling in the clinch, where Belcher’s size and power should prevail.

The Pick

This may be the most entertaining bout on the card and for good reason.

The duo match up well given their styles, and this is the kind of fight where both guys really need a statement, not just a ho-hum decision win. The key factor is how Belcher attacks Bisping. If he stands around and lets Bisping zip in and out with points-focused attacks, as he is wont to do, he’ll get outhustled and fall behind early.

However, Belcher’s physicality is something he can assert here, especially since Bisping doesn’t figure to take him down easy. He’ll cut into Bisping’s offense with punishing leg kicks, turning up the pressure by adding punch combinations, elbows and heavy clinch work.

Bisping’s durability and heart will carry him through taxing exchanges in the second and third rounds, as he’s worn down and nearly finished in the final minutes, while landing some good shots of his own, but they won’t be enough to discourage "The Talent."

Belcher via unanimous decision.

Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 159 pay-per-view (PPV) main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 10 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 6:35 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.

Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst

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