UFC Fight Night 106 Betting Breakdown: Vitor Belfort vs Kelvin Gastelum

Vitor BelfortPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC Fight Night 106 as Vitor Belfort returns to Brazil welcoming American Kelvin Gastelum for a key bout in the middleweight division. Vitor Belfort (Record: 25-13, +340 Underdog, Power Ranking: B-) “The Phenom” has been fighting professionally for two decades. He fought for the UFC as early as 1997 before leaving the promotion to fight for organizations such as Affliction and Pride before returning to the UFC in 2009 where he has been ever since. Belfort has lost three of his last four fights via TKO to former champion Chris Weidman, and top contenders Jacare Souza and Gegard Mousasi. His last win was in 2015 when he knocked out Dan Henderson in Brazil. Belfort has long been labeled one of, if not the best blitzer in the sport. After a short feeling out process, he looks to utilize speed and an aggressive blitz to quickly finish his opponents and get a knockout finish. He’s beaten some excellent opposition in this fashion such as middleweight champion Michael Bisping and former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. The difference between those wins and where Belfort currently stands today is TRT. With further regulation added to the sport, the Brazilian is not the same fighter he was when he knocked out those elite opponents. His speed, strength and physique are simply not at the same level as they once were. Belfort still has good hands and a strong switch kick. He’s certainly capable of catching top-level opponents, but his window to do that is minimal at best. If he’s not able to finish his opponent early, he tends to tire out and get dominated by his opposition. Kelvin Gastelum (Record: 13-2, -425 Favorite, Power Ranking: B+) The San Jose-born, Arizona-raised middleweight has quickly moved up the middleweight rankings on the back of a two-fight winning streak over former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks and Top 10 mainstay Tim Kennedy. His last loss was a very close split decision to Neil Magny back in 2015. The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner started his UFC career at middleweight, moved down to welterweight and has once again moved up to middleweight. He appears to finally have a permanent home in the 185-pound division. The 25-year-old Gastelum has become perhaps the brightest young fighter in the weight class. He has proven to be a very good stand-up fighter. He has good movement and combines strikes well. He lands at a high clip for the division at just under four significant strikes per minute. He combines that with excellent striking defense. Gastelum only absorbs 2.74 strikes per minute. He successfully defends 63 percent of strikes attempted against him. While Gastelum first appeared to be a wrestling-centric fighter, he’s focused more on his striking. It’s not to say he isn’t capable of grappling and winning by submission (four of his 13 victories are by sub), but it’s no longer his focal point. At 185 pounds, Gastelum’s conditioning has been on point and he’s been able to keep a pace that even Kennedy struggled to contend with, so that says a lot about the improvements he has made. As importantly, Gastelum is a durable fighter. He’s never been finished in any of his professional fights. He has two career losses, both by split decision, which goes to show that even when he’s lost, his fights have been very close. Matchup Another key bout in the rise of Gastelum, as he heads to hostile territory to take on the legendary Belfort. I expect Belfort to attempt an early blitz, but Gastelum’s durability and footwork should keep the American out of harm’s way. After that initial sequence, Gastelum will develop into a rhythm where he will significantly out-strike his opponent. Gastelum’s combinations will be too much for Belfort to handle, and eventually he will be dropped to the canvas. I don’t expect Gastelum to win by a clean knockout, but it will be an accumulation of strikes that will force the referee to step in and end the fight. This is a difficult fight for Belfort, and even fighting in his native Brazil, it’s tough to imagine him getting a result. Gastelum is a -425 favorite, and that’s pretty close to where I have this fight lined. The better bet is Gastelum Inside the Distance (-276). At this point in Belfort’s career, it’s very difficult seeing him being able to stay in the cage for 25 minutes with a young, on-the-rise fighter like Gastelum. That’s a very good parlay piece that can be utilized for this fight card. I’ll also be looking at the point handicap once it’s released.

Written by Jay Primetown

Leave a Reply

MMA Odds and Ends for Thursday: Alvarez vs. Poirier, Cejudo vs. Pettis set for UFC 211, Rothwell flagged by USADA

UFC Fight Night 106’s Tim Means: ‘I want to put (Oliveira) all over the canvas in front of his people’