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UFC Fight Night 124 card: Uriah Hall vs Vitor Belfort full fight preview

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Pittsburgh- Jotko vs Hall Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight knockout artists Uriah Hall and Vitor Belfort will collide this Sunday (Jan. 14, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 124 inside Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

Say what you will about Hall, but his story has certainly been interesting thus far. Sadly, after the opening five minutes of his bout with Krzysztof Jotko, it seemed like his UFC career was coming to an early end. However, Hall showed more resilience than ever before, rallying back in the second round to avoid a four-fight losing streak. Belfort, meanwhile, was looking at the end of his own UFC career last time out as well. Instead, the two-decade veteran switched camps and showed some new patience, which resulted in his first decision victory since 2007 and earned Belfort more time to practice his craft inside the Octagon.

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each athlete:

Uriah Hall
Record: 13-8
Key Wins: Gegard Mousasi (UFC Fight Night 75), Krzysztof Jotko (UFC Fight Night 116), Thiago Santos (UFC 175), Chris Leben (UFC 168)
Key Losses: Gegard Mousasi (UFC Fight Night 99), Derek Brunson (UFC Fight Night 94), Robert Whittaker (UFC 193), Rafael Natal (UFC 187)
Keys to Victory: Hall is a very gifted kickboxer with definite fight-ending power. He’s also proven to be a difficult man to take down and shown some trickiness on the mat, which is the reason only the division’s best have been able to defeat him in recent years.

Interestingly, this is a match up of fighters with similar strengths and flaws on the feet. Simplified down, both men like to kick at range and convince their foe to move into counter strikes, but they struggle against composed pressure fighters who walk them into the fence. If neither man adjusts his game, we’ll likely be treated to a range kicking match that stays low tempo. Hall has lost frustrating decisions like that in the past, so he should probably switch things up just a little.

I’d like to see Hall moving forward. Belfort hates the fence, and backing him into it increases the chance that Belfort will react poorly and get countered. Even aside from all that, it’s more difficult to fighting moving backward, meaning that the 40-year-old Brazilian’s cardio will be tested worse if Hall is on the offensive. As an aside, a single takedown from Hall could probably end the fight if he were to go that route.


Vitor Belfort
Record: 26-13 (1)
Key Wins: Luke Rockhold (UFC on FX 8), Michael Bisping (UFC on FX 7), Anthony Johnson (UFC 142), Nate Marquardt (UFC 212)
Key Losses: Gegard Mousasi (UFC 204), Chris Weidman (UFC 187), Ronaldo Souza (UFC 198), Jon Jones (UFC 152)
Keys to Victory: It’s often said that power is the last thing to go, but Belfort has kept quite a bit of his famous speed as well. The Brazilian can still crack hard and move well, but his durability and conditioning have definitely taken a hit from such a long career in combat.

Of the two men, it is Belfort who is more likely to benefit from a stereotypical low output kickboxing match. I don’t know if he’d be the favorite in that type of fight, but it’s definitely his best chance at winning.

Last time out, Belfort maintained the distance and was steadily active for three rounds. He was never as devastating in any one moment, but he also did not gas and was able to pick up the close decision. He’s been training out of Tristar lately, a gym that specializes in fighting smart above all else. If Belfort convinces Hall to respect his counter and draws him into a slow kickboxing match, there’s every chance he can steal the decision. He’s a crafty veteran who knows how to win rounds, whereas Hall has been out-hustled previously.

Bottom Line: I don’t know how many times I’ve written this now, but it may be Belfort’s last UFC bout.

For Hall, the stakes are definitely high. If he performs well, this should be another knockout win, his second in a row. Two knockouts really earns him some extra job security, and it means he could actually began trying to climb the ladder once again. Of course, now that Hall is a 3:1 favorite again, the pressure is definitely on him to not find a way to lose to his 40-year-old foe.

On the other side of the equation, how many fights did Belfort’s decision victory over the since-retired Nathan Marquardt earn him? It’s very possible that number is just one, meaning that “The Phenom” has to win here to keep his UFC career alive. At the very least, he must avoid being knocked out for the fourth time in five fights, which would probably see him on the next ship to Bellator. Meanwhile, if Belfort pulls off the upset, it would be a great chance to retire on a big win, but more likely would earn Belfort an even difficult opponent.

At UFC Fight Night 124, Uriah Hall and Vitor Belfort will battle in the co-main event. Which fighter will have his hand raised?

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