Chris Weidman vs Vitor Belfort – UFC 187 Statistical Analysis and Pick

UFC 187 May 23rd, 2015 Middleweight Championship Matchup: Chris Weidman vs Vitor Belfort By @fightnomics It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen either man in the co-main event in action, so the anticipation for the matchup has had plenty of time to sink in. And yet for some, this fight is flying under the radar due to the Jon Jones fiasco and main event for the vacant Light Heavyweight title. Regardless, Chris Weidman’s reign as champion has been impressive despite being still in its early stages and with only two title defenses since first winning it nearly two years ago. And once again, Chris Weidman is facing an older, Brazilian legend and former champion. Weidman has already prevailed twice in this scenario over Anderson Silva in their rematch, and later against Lyoto Machida, and looks to do it again against the resurgent Vitor Belfort. Belfort has become another fighter who looks dominant outside of title fights, having been finished by Anderson Silva and Jon Jones but amassing five finishes to his credit in his latest UFC stint. So which Belfort will show up in Vegas this weekend? Likely a smaller one. We have yet to see the post-TRT Belfort compete, and that may be what’s driving most of the action. Currently, the champion is a heavy favorite at -525 over the #2 ranked Middleweight Belfort at +415.  Those are steep odds, and they are the highest of Weidman’s title reign. So let’s take a closer look at the numbers to see if Belfort has a better chance than the market is giving him.   Summary Stats:

Uber Tape Weidman-Belfort (1) To see more Uber Tales of the Tape for this UFC fight card, check out MMA Oddsbreaker Premium.

  Tale of Tape Matchup: The traditional tale of the tape heavily favors Weidman as the much younger and also bigger fighter. Belfort is a Southpaw, and that has certainly helped his aggressive striking catch opponents off-guard in the past, but Weidman has recently faced Anderson Silva (twice) and Lyoto Machida, so he should be well-prepared for the unorthodox stance of Belfort. The complicating factor is Belfort’s physiology. Having been busted for anabolic steroids while still in his 20’s, he later revealed testosterone replacement therapy as a cause for a second infraction for elevated testosterone eight years later. He has competed on “T” legally several times, but the UFC’s new rules banned even doctor-supported TRT, making this the first fight where we know Belfort will be au natural. And that’s a pretty sobering thought. The man seemed to defy his years and fight experience knocking out talented, younger opponents, but already rumors are swirling that the loss of testosterone supplements will have a major impact on his typically intimidating physique. Belfort certainly believes in himself, and is dismissive about the change to his training regimen, but the scientific reality is less flexible, or forgiving. The fact is that Belfort is now one of the oldest fighters in the UFC, and has had a major hormone change in an unfavorable direction. This alone will affect the market action on this fight, and will change the Belfort that steps into the cage on fight night.   Striking Matchup: Belfort’s striking has always been his most vicious weapon, and it remains his best path to victory. Throughout his career, 17 of 24 wins have come by strikes, and his Knockdown Rate of 20% is the highest in UFC history. But as dominant as he looks in victory, there are some very clear holes in his standup game. Belfort has the lowest striking pace of any fighter on the card this weekend. He literally averages only half of the pace that Weidman throws on the feet. Belfort generally fails to keep up with the striking pace of opponents while Weidman tends to outwork his own. And yet there’s only a very small difference in power striking accuracy even though Belfort is waiting for the right opening and Weidman controls the cage. So, of course, Belfort will still have the puncher’s chance, or as we saw against Luke Rockhold, a kicker’s chance. Belfort swings for the fences, rarely using a jab or worrying about winning a round. He’s head-hunting and looking for the finish, plain and simple. Fortunately, Weidman is relatively young in age and in his career, and has never been knocked out or even knocked down. And that’s despite trading strikes with Silva and Machida. So Weidman’s durability will be the key to the standup striking exchanges, as he can at least take a few more punches than most can against Belfort, and Weidman can dish it back just as powerfully. That’s where the surprise stat comes out: Belfort’s Knockdown Defense. Just as his power rating is incredibly high, Belfort’s chin rating is horrible. That makes for an easy target that Weidman only has to hit a few times to do some serious damage. Belfort has proven to be quite good at not getting hit, likely due to his wait and counter style, but he’s not good at all at eating strikes. Round-to-round the pace and range advantage for Weidman give a strong edge on the cards, and Belfort’s vulnerability combined with Weidman’s durability give the champion the better chance for a finish.   Grappling Matchup: On the ground Belfort’s best weapons are mitigated, despite a solid base in jiu jitsu. Weidman has simply been the more effective wrestler and grappler, and has the stamina to implement it relentlessly to grind Belfort down. Belfort attempts very few takedowns, and despite average takedown defense has spent the vast majority of his time on the ground being controlled by opponents. Weidman has never been put on his back or otherwise controlled, and he’s been very good at getting the fight to the ground. Once there, his submission attack is also a threat. So again, round-to-round the numbers favor Weidman should the fight stay on the ground, and there’s also a greater threat of a finish there by the champ.   Reed’s Pick: Weidman Inside the Distance (Click for latest MMA odds)   Reed’s Recommended Play:  The current price of -525 is another matchup this weekend where the clear favorite is being run up in price. But for those looking for a safe multi-fighter parlay, Weidman is a safe ingredient. But obviously, a prop play would provide better value Inside the Distance at a much more reasonable -190. It would be hard to imagine Belfort surviving the championship rounds against someone as fit and dangerous as Weidman. The Over of 2.5 rounds is currently +105, the Under -125. So the market is torn on whether this will make it to round three. The finishing potential from both men suggest the Under is the better play, but the last time Belfort failed to get the early KO, he did hang in there with Jon Jones until the fourth round. That said, Weidman is more of a power striker than Jones, and has equally dangerous submissions. The finish will come ultimately if either man is caught and dropped early, or just as soon as Belfort’s cardio starts to fade, and Weidman can feel safe taking an opening. It’s possible that the leaner Belfort might have improved stamina, albeit unlikely. However, the best play here simply remains the Weidman ITD prop, which can also be paired with another clear favorite for nearly even return, as the total is well placed for this matchup.   For information on getting the “Fightnomics” the book, go here. Want to put your knowledge to the test in Fantasy MMA for cash? Use the code “FIGHTNOMICS” for an immediate 25% deposit bonus at Kountermove.

Written by Reed Kuhn

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