It’s a fight that has been almost years in the making. The most anticipated middleweight fight since Anderson Silva lost his middleweight title to the then up-and-coming Chris Weidman. It’s one of the most controversial bouts in recent UFC history. It’s Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort for the middleweight title.

In short, at UFC 187, all eyes will be on Weidman and Belfort. Among MMA fans, well, just about everyone is going to have an opinion.

That said, put aside your personal feelings about Belfort’s drug test failures for now. Put aside the skepticism about whether or not his recent in-cage results were the product of a little TRT magic. Those are valid concerns — but this fight is going to take place regardless of past history.

The big question is, can Belfort dethrone the champion who keeps proving doubters wrong?

Here are a few keys necessary to ensure he does.

Keep the Fight Standing

Weidman is a decorated wrestler capable of dominating the fight if it goes to the ground. For Belfort to be successful, he needs to keep this fight where he’s at his best: on the feet, with his full arsenal of strikes at the ready. Yes, Belfort had Jon Jones is an ugly arm bar during their light heavyweight title fight, but in the end, Jones came out the winner, and Weidman, while not at Jones level yet, is well on his way to being just that good.

Cardio

High level wrestlers are well known for their cardio abilities and Weidman is no exception. He is coming off a five round victory over Lyoto Machida, and is capable of pushing the pace. At this point in his career, can Vitor Belfort keep up? He’s not going to have any over option, unless he can finish the fight early, or is finished himself.

Look For That Kick

That kick. You know the one. It landed on Luke Rockhold. It landed on Michael Bisping. It landed on Dan Henderson. It looked a little different each time (and truth be told, one was a spinning heel kick), but the point here is this: Belfort can unleash kicks with a sudden urgency, a quickness not only in delivery but execution, that few can parallel. That’s the sort of attack that can take a methodical fighter like Weidman off his guard. A sudden strike, and a KO or flash TKO, is probably Belfort’s most likely path to victory, and it will all start with “that kick” — should it happen.

It’s rather cliche to say that this is the biggest fight of Belfort’s career. That kind of talk is usually cliche about any fighter in a given title fight. The biggest fight, to some extent, is always the next one, especially when you’re on the rise. Belfort, however, isn’t on the rise. He’s the old lion, still battling it out with the younger cats. He won the UFC heavyweight tournament back in 1997 at UFC 12. He won the UFC light heavyweight championship against Randy Couture in 2004. He fought Anderson Silva for the middleweight title. He fought Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title.

In short, this isn’t the biggest fight of Vitor Belfort’s career. It is, however, the fight that may very well define his legacy. It will either silence doubters, or prove critics right. As to which, that all depends on Belfort’s performance come Saturday night.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.