Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight veterans Vitor Belfort and Nate Marquardt squared off last night (June 3, 2017) at UFC 212 inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Outside of the main event, this bout carried perhaps the two biggest names on the card. Belfort and Marquardt have been competing for a very long time, but their results as of late have been mixed. Both look a touch slower and have been stopped more frequently than early in their career, which led many to see this as a potential retirement fight for either man. Still, both athletes walked to the cage fully intending to blast the other into unconsciousness, retirement or no.
That didn’t happen.
Marquardt made a smart decision early, moving into the clinch and landing a slick inside trip. Then, the referee folded under the pressure of the crowd and stood them up far too quickly. Belfort took advantage of that gift with a nice left hand and kick, but mostly the two remained disciplined and feinted at range.
To be frank, almost nothing happened for large periods of the round. The lack of activity made it a very close round, but I would lean towards Marquardt on the strength of the takedown and some low kicks.
Marquardt kept with his strategy moving into the second round, shooting out quick right hands and kicks. However, a left hand counter from the Brazilian shifted the momentum quickly, as Marquardt backed away immediately into the fence. Belfort pursued his opponent, firing strong left punches and kicks.
Nonetheless, Marquardt survived.
Once the flurry ended, Marquardt returned to his outside game. It took some time, but Marquardt began to find some real success with his punches, bloodying up his opponent and landing some good punches to the body as well.
Beflort did nothing outside of his single flurry — the most significant moment of the round — which made it a difficult round to call.
The story of the third round was similar to the first two. Marquardt was not landing anything all that effective from his range, but he was landing. Meanwhile, Belfort spent a vast majority of the round watching his opponent land small strikes, allowing Marquardt to score some points.
Belfort finally turned it up in the final two minutes of the round. Immediately, he found success, landing strong punches and keeping Marquardt on the defensive. When Belfort lead, he landed, and he chased his opponent around the cage for much of the final round.
Ultimately, the judges awarded Vitor Belfort the unanimous decision. It wasn’t a bad decision, but the fight taking place in Brazil definitely didn’t hurt for “The Phenom.”
From a technical stand point, there’s really not a ton to breakdown for either man. Marquardt flipped the script by playing the outside kickboxing game, and it worked reasonably well for him. At times, he landed strikes while Belfort did nothing, which is pretty ideal.
That said, Belfort still has his speed and power to some degree. When he did commit to an attack, Marquardt had a very difficult time fully getting out of the way or stuffing his foe’s offense.
Belfort didn’t go on the offensive very often, but it seems he did it just enough to win.
Moving forward, Belfort has made it clear he still intends to fight. Unless they find another 20-year veteran for him, I don’t see how that ends well for him. At this point, perhaps a rematch with Anderson Silva makes the most sense?
As for Marquardt, he should probably retired. He’s now lost three of his last four, and he just doesn’t have the conditioning or athleticism to compete with the best. He’s still a smart and skilled fighter, but the sport demands more.
Last night, Vitor Belfort earned a close decision opposite Nate Marquardt. Where do both athletes go from here?
For complete UFC 212: “Aldo vs Holloway” results and play-by-play, click HERE!