The Ultimate Fighting Championship is starting off 2011 in exciting fashion. This weekend will be the third event for the organization already. With two successful cards under their belt, the UFC would like to keep things rolling and the UFC 126 card looks like it is built to deliver.
Headlining the show is a matchup between two calculating Brazilian strikers. Former Light Heavyweight Champion Vitor Belfort and current Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva will meet in one of the most anticipated matchups of the year.
Dropping down to 185 has helped reshape Belfort’s career. Currently he is riding a five-fight win streak that brought him back into the UFC. In 2009 alone he stopped both Matt Lindland and Rich Franklin in less than four minutes combined. An injury forced him to take a back seat and not receive the title fight he was looking for in 2010. Now fully recovered, Belfort looks to use his quick hands and powerful striking to stop the man who has sat upon the middleweight division for nearly five years.
Silva is coming into this matchup after showing exactly what champions are made from. With mere moments left, he used a triangle choke to defeat Chael Sonnen who at the time was dominating the champion from start to finish. Silva was suffering from an apparent rib injury that has since healed. This will be his record holding ninth title defense of the UFC belt.
Both Silva and Belfort possess the striking acumen that can quickly end a fight. With pinpoint accuracy and stunning power they have dropped a number of foes during their career. Viewers can expect a number of exciting exchanges during this confrontation. Look for Belfort to use his boxing to quickly force the champion into pressure. Silva, on the other hand, will look to use his elusiveness and Muay Thai abilities to land a sudden blow that may lead to the downfall of the contender. Either way, this fight will not go the full 25 minutes.
In the co-main event, two former champions will face off. Rich Franklin will fight Forrest Griffin in what will be a matchup featuring two of the most popular fighters in the organization. Griffin is returning to the cage after a yearlong lay off due to a shoulder injury. In his last matchup he earned revenge against Tito Ortiz though a split decision victory. Franklin is also coming off a victory as he stopped UFC legend, Chuck Liddell this past June.
Both fighters share a similar style and fans can expect an interesting matchup in result. Franklin may be the more technical striker of the two, while Griffin will hold an advantage once if the fight is taken to the mat. However, fans can expect that both fighters will stand on the feet and trade until the final bell.
Another light heavyweight pits two prospects against each other. Ryan Bader and Jon Jones will face off in a fight that plans to create the next contender to the light heavyweight crown.
Coming into this fight, Bader is 12-0 since starting his career. The former teammate of Cain Velasquez and CB Dollaway has a strong wrestling background with powerful takedowns. During his UFC stint he has defeated Keith Jardine and Antonio Nogueira.
11-1 Jon Jones is riding a wave of success through the light heavyweight ranks. Other than a technical mistake against Matt Hamill that led to a DQ, Jones has looked dominate in each of his bouts. Of his 11 victories, nine have come by stoppage.
Jones is a great striker with the ability to stave off takedown attempts while going for his own. However, he has yet to face a wrestler on Bader’s level. It will be interesting to see how well he avoids Bader’s takedown attempts. Jones is the better of the two while on his feet, however, Bader seems to have the advantage on the mat. This is the first big contender eliminator fight of the year.
UFC 126 is also going to feature a number of UFC debuts for fighters who were once under the WEC banner. Casual MMA fans may be experiencing their first dosage of fighters such as Chad Mendes, Miguel Torres, and Donald Cerrone, all of which were favorites during their time in the WEC. Also on the card is the UFC debut of Japanese standout Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto.
UFC 126 is a stacked card that will be exciting from start to finish. It’s suggested that fans do not overlook any of the bouts on this card, because they are all potential Fight of the Night candidates.
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