The UFC travels to Brazil for this first time in 2017 and they bring with them some intriguing matchups. The main event in Fortaleza, Brazil will see legend Vitor Belfort trying to prove he’s still got the fight in him when he takes on relative youngster Kelvin Gastelum.
The entire card is filled with the typical Brazilian fighters like Alex Oliveira, Bethe Correia and Francisco Trinaldo. But no more bout should excite true MMA fans like Edson Barboza vs Beneil Dariush.
Vitor Belfort vs Kelvin Gastelum
When Vitor Belfort (+285) enters the Octagon, you are basically guaranteed to see a stoppage. Each of Belfort’s past 14 bouts has failed to make it to the scorecards, with five of his past six ending within the first round. He has always been a finisher who could pour it on when he smells blood, but those moments are fewer and far between nowadays. Belfort is still a physical specimen but he is not as fast as he once was. There is no doubt Belfort can still knock your head off but he has been more tentative with his hands in his past few fights.
Vitor’s striking is almost primarily built around his left hand at this point. It’s still insanely powerful and he can unload it when he wants to. He uses his left effectively in bursts and opponents can be overly worried about that shot which allows Belfort to throw other strikes.
That’s about it at this point of his career. Belfort is solid in the clinch and can do a few interesting things if he gets top control on the mat. However, if Belfort finds himself with his back on the mat, he is all but done.
Kelvin Gastelum (-375) will be taking his second fight since returning to the middleweight division out of necessity. He made a statement in his return against Tim Kennedy, knocking the former US Special Forces member, but will always be on the wrong side of the size equation at 185.
Though size will be an issue, Gastelum has speed and aggression in the striking department to help overcome the reach disadvantage. He overwhelms his opponent with volume and will constantly probe with his jab. Gastelum is primarily a boxer in the standup game but his feet and just as dangerous due to his foot speed and movement.
Gastelum’s athleticism helps greatly in his wrestling game, as his takedowns are largely based on an opportunistic explosion. That doesn’t help with his defense, as he is far from the best defensively. Gastelum has always had difficulties against high-quality wrestlers and that could only grow given the jump up to middleweight.
This has all the signs of a quick, strike-heavy bout. Gastelum has the advantage in foot movement while Belfort has the advantage in power. This feels like a passing of the torch type bout, but Belfort is capable of knocking out any opponent he faces.
Other Notable Fights
Mauricio ‘Shogun” Rua (-145) looks to prove he can still hang around the light heavyweight division when he takes on Gian Villante (+115) in the co-main event. Shogun was one of the greatest power punchers in MMA history during his younger days, but those days are long ago. That being said, Rua is still crafty and has techniques to win a fight in every aspect. His biggest question mark is surrounding his chin. Chin is one of the first things to go for an aging fighter and though his KO losses have come against power punchers, you still need to wonder. Villante is a crisp kickboxer who has solid wrestling skills due to his time training with Chris Weidman. He is athletic and has flashed finishing ability, albeit against less-than-good competition. The New York native has a questionable chin himself and some bad cardio, he’s 3-4 in fights that have gone to a decision.
In what could/should be the fight of the night, Edson Barboza (-175) and Beneil Dariush (+145) clash in a hugely important bout for the lightweight division. Barboza is a special striker, as his long frame and world-class Muay Thai skills have stifled most opponents. He prefers to keep space so he can properly utilize his lethal kicks, which also means that opponents need to shoot from a great distance if they want to take Barboza down. This has made Barboza one of the elite defense wrestlers in the game, as dropping down to go for a takedown leaves his opponent exposed. Dariush has always had some fantastic submission skills but it has been the growth in his striking that has made him a top tier fighter. Under Rafael Cordeiro at King’s MMA, Dariush has become increasingly aggressive in the standup game and will walk forward until he can initiate the clinch. Once in the clinch, Dariush loves digging knees into his opponent, he’s a black belt in Muay Thai, before shooting an opportune takedown and dominating on the mat.
Ray Borg (EVEN) looks to prove he is ready to make a climb up the flyweight rankings when he faces off against stalwart Jussier Formiga (-130). Once Borg gets going, his grappling abilities are elite and he has the ability to quickly capitalize on any mistake presented. He’s an explosive athlete who doesn’t excel in any specific area of the game and can be shut down by a skilled opponent. Borg is at his best when he is mixing his skills and keeping his opponent guessing. ‘The Tazmexican Devil’ is more of a grinder than a finisher. Formiga is one of the best 125’ers in terms of transitional grappling, as he almost always comes out on top if a scramble happens. The Brazillian is perfectly capable of bringing a fight to the mat both from the clinch of from outside. Formiga is more of a counter striker in the standup game and happily fires back with his right hand if he’s opponent is moving forward.
UFC Fight Night 106 – Belfort vs Gastelum Odds
Odds as of March 8 at Bovada
- Vitor Belfort +285
- Kelvin Gastelum -375
- Shogun Rua -145
- Gian Villante +115
- Beneil Dariush +145
- Edson Barboza -175
- Jussier Formiga -130
- Ray Borg EVEN
- Bethe Correia +105
- Marion Reneau -135
- Tim Means -240
- Alex Oliveira +190
- Francisco Trinaldo +125
- Kevin Lee -155
- Sergio Moraes -205
- Davi Ramos +165
- Michel Prazeres -250
- Josh Burkman +195
- Rony Jason -120
- Jeremy Kennedy -110
- Paulo Borrachinha -260
- Garreth McLellan +200