Vitor Belfort was undoubtedly one of the stars of UFC 133 after evoking memories of his early days in the UFC with his fast hands and devastating powers which produced a quick KO victory over the normally granite-chinned Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Despite his KO loss to current champion Anderson Silva earlier in the year there’s no question that Belfort remains one of the middleweight division’s best, so what comes next for him?
According to Dana White at the post-fight press conference the fact that Belfort essentially escaped from this fight quickly and unscathed could mean that he’s going to be thrust back into action sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile at the same presser Belfort claimed he wants to fight the winner of Anderson Silva Vs Yushin Okami.
A rematch with Silva certainly isn’t out of the question in the future – as Belfort himself pointed out post-fight, if ‘that’ kick hadn’t landed in their first encounter the bout may well have turned out differently.
I feel It’s a little premature for Belfort to be thrust immediately into that position again however – let’s not forget that Akiyama was on a two fight losing streak prior this this – so ideally he still needs at least one more big fight first.
White agreed with that assessment last night so therefore one of the division’s top contenders appears to be in order for his next bout. The only problem is that they are all currently booked up so he may have to wait to see how things shake out.
The winner of Chael Sonnen Vs Brian Stann at UFC 136 in October would be a perfect opponent I believe and would give the UFC a big fight to promote either at the end of the year or early next year to decide the next No.1 contender.
Elsewhere the victor of Michael Bisping Vs Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller at the TUF 14 finale in December is also a possibility, as is the winner of Chris Leben Vs Mark Munoz at UFC 138 in November.
Given that Silva Vs Okami takes place later this month, timing wise it’s likely that the winner of one of these bouts will become the next No.1 contender.
Personally my money’s on it being the winner of Sonnen Vs Stann that’ll go on to fight for the title, so I’d expect it’s from one of the two other aforementioned fights that Belfort’s next opponent is most likely to come from.
In the mean time, given the UFC’s recent run of bad luck with injury, having a fit Belfort ready to go is a definite plus as he could comfortably slot in as a late replacement for any of these major upcoming middleweight match-ups.