Straight off the heels of the exhilarating UFC 209, the top mixed martial arts organization in the world serves up an intriguing UFC Fight Night, to be aired on FS1 in Brazil.The main event pits two top ten middleweight contenders, Vitor Belfort, ranked 9th and Kelvin Gastelum ranked 10th, against each other to compare skills inside the cage. It is a worthy main event for several reasons. For one, it matches two fighters at the low end of the top ten against each other, proving once again you cannot hide in the UFC.
The winner of this fight will crawl up the ranks in a top-heavy division, which just became more crowded with the announcement of UFC Legend George St. Pierre set to challenge for the coveted middleweight title.I would not bet on a victory translating into a title shot for either one of these fighters this year. Yet, they risk their standing against each other, and ‘bring it’ they will. A fight of this nature is the essence of the UFC and mixed martial arts; high risk, low reward. These kinds of fights are commonplace for the majority of UFC fighters. Why we love these fighters and the sport.
Another reason to plan your Saturday night around this card is because it is a chance to see Belfort. The Phenom, as Vitor is so eloquently called, is one of the most recognizable names in MMA.
Competing as a professional since 1996, Belfort is considered a pioneer of the sport; to give you an idea how long Belfort has been around, his UFC debut came in UFC 12. A long time ago. The fact that Belfort is still competing in the top 10 in the UFC is, well…phenomenal.
Belfort has been linked to greatness, as well as controversy. He suspensions due to steroid use has cost him a lot of fans and stature. Also, he has clearly lost a few steps on his golden staircase. Yet, fight on he does. The Brazilian crowd Saturday should be raucous, in support of their still beloved son. It may be the last time they get to see this legend in action.
Kelvin Gastelum, Belfort’s opponent, knows full well what he is up against. Kelvin is a versatile mixed martial artist who is comfortable finishing off opponents with strikes, as well as submissions. Gastelum has also proven he can go the distance. He was on the wrong side of two spilt decisions; one to Tyron Woodley, 3 rounds; one to Neil Magny, 5 rounds.
Unlike Belfort, Gastelum is riding a two-fight win streak; Belfort has dropped his last two, and is still young, 25. When Belfort enters the cage Saturday he will be 39 years of age.
Home cooking aside, all the right checks seem to fall under the Gastelum column. Can the Californian native parlay the advantages he appears to have on paper into the biggest win of his life? Tune in Saturday night for the answer to this intriguing question.
Zutes Boxing Talk & Zutes MMA Talk are podcasts that bring you the world of combat sports straight up with no twists. In each episode, “Zute” calls upon the best boxing & MMA minds in the business to talk about the current state of the fight game, and interviews some of the best fighters in the world of combat sports. Carlos Palomino, Mikey Garcia Sergey Kovalev, Shonie Carter and Jeremy Horn are among the guests that have been featured on the podcast.Contact the Feature Writers