This weekend’s Middleweight showdown is interesting in that both fighters have managed to stay at the top of their division despite age, injuries and newer/younger prospects. There's no doubt Vitor can end this with one swing, but if this goes passed the 1st round, it could very well end up becoming the Michael Bisping show.
Who will show up the most mentally conditioned? With a title shot looming so closely, is Bisping finally taking things as serious as he needs to? Who will fight the smarter more strategic fight? Which man’s physical conditioning will show its limits first? And does it even matter?
All of these questions will remain indeterminable until tomorrow night. But until then, let’s look at what we do know, and compare their skills discipline for discipline.
Wrestling: 60-40 Bisping
Both men aren’t exactly known for their elite wrestling skills. However both have shown moments of brilliance and have had some success in this area. Over the span of his entire career, Vitor Belfort has seldom been on his back or taken down, showcasing some truly effective defensive wrestling skills.
However wrestling skills have seemed to be evolving quicker and are being used more and more among British fighters. We’ve been seeing steady improvements in both the offensive and defensive wrestling abilities of most British fighters, while the majority of Brazilian fighters, whether through pride or ignorance, have seemed to rely on mostly their Jiu-Jitsu skills for grappling.
With that said, Bisping has a better balance between the offensive and defensive wrestling game, so I give him the upper hand here.
Striking: 60-40 Bisping
This category is very similar to the wrestling category, in that one opponent does a specific thing very well, but hasn’t seemed to obtain a good balance of the entire discipline. There’s no doubt that Vitor Belfort has some of the fastest most explosive hands in the history of MMA.
However what Belfort has in power and speed, he lacks in dynamics, much like his fellow Brazilian, former Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos, he doesn’t seem to throw any strikes involving his legs. This is a huge and glaring issue in modern MMA, seeing as how all of the UFC’s very best and longest reigning champions as well as it’s younger prospects are all putting the entire package together better than ever.
With that said, Michael Bisping is one of the most dynamic strikers in the Middleweight division. There aren’t many fighters that mix it up better than Bisping does, and in good conscience, I simply can’t judge this area based on punching power and speed alone, when knees, kicks and elbows are also involved.
I give the striking advantage to Bisping.
Jiu-Jitsu: 60-40 Belfort
Both fighters have very underrated submission skills. Vitor Belfort is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under Carlson Gracie, while - to my knowledge - Bisping holds no formal belt in the discipline at all. The interesting part? I don’t think it really matters.
Belts don’t hold as much meaning as they used to in the earlier years of MMA, simply because the sport has evolved to a point where you simply must know and possess basic Jiu-Jitsu skills if you plan on being a successful fighter. Royce Gracie proved how vitally important the discipline is to the octagon and it has been a staple and a building block for fighters ever since.
With that said, both fighters have shown some great skills in this field, and while I find the majority of people not giving Bisping the Jiu-Jitsu cred that he deserves, I do feel that Belfort has the superior submission skills of the two.
Due to his love of “staying on the feet” we may not see it very often, but I give Belfort the slight advantage here if it goes to the ground.