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UFC 187 fight card: Chris Weidman vs Vitor Belfort full fight preview

Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort will FINALLY scrap this Saturday (May 23, 2015) at UFC 187 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a match up of two potent finishers, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight superstars Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort will collide this Saturday (May 23, 2015) at UFC 187 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Weidman is on a pretty incredible tear. Undefeated as a professional, Weidman earned the UFC title in his tenth fight and has since defended it twice. Against a Murderer's Row of contenders, Weidman will look to maintain his perfect record.

Starting with "The Phenom."

Testosterone controversy aside, it's hard to deny how impressive Belfort has looked in his last few appearances. He's brutally head kicked his last three opponents -- including surging star Luke Rockhold -- and will look for his fourth knockout straight against the champion.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both fighters:

Chris Weidman
Record: 12-0
Key Wins: Anderson Silva (UFC 168, UFC 162), Lyoto Machida (UFC 175), Demian Maia (UFC on Fox 2)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Weidman is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the world. He possesses elite level wrestling and submission skills, while his ever-improving kickboxing ability has knocked out Anderson Silva and controlled Lyoto Machida.

If Belfort is still in peak physical condition, this will be an interesting challenge for Weidman. He excels at controlling the center, cutting off the cage, and putting himself in advantageous positions. Against such an incredibly fast and dangerous counter puncher like Belfort, that could be a risky tactic.

Weidman doesn't want to find himself at the end of a flurry.

To take out the Brazilian, Weidman should utilize plenty of kicks, much like he did opposite Machida. Belfort has long had difficulty with opponents that kick well, from the beginning of his career all the way to Jon Jones. If Weidman looks to battle from the kicking range, it will frustrate Belfort, who rarely leads with punches.

Then, Weidman can come about the takedown in two ways. If Belfort attempts to counter with a flurry of punches all the way from the end of Weidman's kicking range, it should be pretty easy for Weidman to duck down into a takedown. On the other hand, if Belfort is hesitant to burst forward, Weidman can use his excellent footwork to walk Belfort into the fence and work from there.

Once Weidman gets on top, Belfort is in for a world of hurt.


Vitor Belfort
Record: 24-10
Key Wins: Luke Rockhold (UFC on FX 8), Michael Bisping (UFC on FX 7), Anthony Johnson (UFC 142)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 152), Anderson Silva (UFC 126)
Keys to Victory: Belfort is one of the most dangerous counter punchers in the history of mixed martial arts (MMA). Known for his violent blitzes, Belfort has finished 17 opponents via knockout across a 20 year career.

And oh yeah, he's added vicious head kicks into his arsenal in the last two.

Overall, Weidman performs at his best when stalking his opponent. When Machida pushed him backwards in the later rounds, Weidman absorbed a lot more heavy strikes than he ever previously had. Like Machida, Belfort is usually doesn't mind fighting off his back foot, but he needs to switch that up here.

If Weidman feels pressured, there's a few things he might do. The most likely is that Weidman will change levels and look for a takedown. While that's a major problem for just about every middleweight in the world, at least Belfort's back wouldn't be to the cage when it happened.

Alternatively, Weidman could throw his own combination or hesitate. In either case, Belfort should be able to find openings for both his counter punches and high kicks. Plus, if he begins to connect and Weidman goes for a sloppy shot, Belfort is excellent at doing damage in transitions.

To dethrone one of the best cage cutters in the sport, Belfort needs to control the center of the Octagon and keep his back off the fence.

Bottom Line: This match up has been made a few times and repeatedly scrapped, but it's finally here.

At the moment, the biggest thing holding Weidman back from true pound-for-pound great status is frequency. Weidman has suffered from quite a few injuries across his UFC career and is looking to make a successful return here. If he can dispatch the legendary knockout artist and make it back into the cage before the year ends, it would be huge for his legacy.

On the other hand, a loss would be devastating. Weidman hasn't yet held the belt long enough to earn an immediate rematch unless it's a controversial decision, and Belfort doesn't really win those.

This is likely Belfort's last chance to truly win a title. His "stoppage" of Randy Couture years ago that once earned him a title counts, but it's not how the Brazilian wants to win the title. If he knocks out the undefeated champion, he would undeniably earn his UFC gold.

Otherwise, he's probably too far into his career to put together another win streak without the aid of TRT.

At UFC 187, Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort will battle for the strap. Which man will earn the victory?

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