You are here: Home > Betting Analysis > Breaking Down UFC 142 Co-Main Event: Belfort Vs. Johnson
Posted on January 12, 2012 by John Petit
Middleweights Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson
When you run down the list of Vitor Belfort’s accomplishments in the UFC, the one that has always stood out for me is not his number of wins, but how he wins. Belfort has 9 octagon wins, including winning the heavyweight tournament championship at UFC 12, and all 9 of his wins have come by first round knock out or technical knock out. The stat shows exactly how dangerous Belfort can be in the cage, but also reveals a way to beat him. Your odds of winning a fight with Belfort go up astronomically if you can get out of the first round. Since we see so much of his striking, many fans and gamblers forget about his jiu jitsu pedigree. For instance, he took the bronze in the Absolute Division at the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) Submission Wrestling World Championship in 2001. There are few grappling tournaments as prestigious as the ADCC.
Anthony Johnson wrestled in high school and in junior college, and exceeded expectations in both venues. He was a state champion in high school and set a school record for wins in a row, and in junior college he was the 2004 NJCAA national champion at 174 lbs. Johnson took his first UFC fight on less than 2 weeks notice at UFC Fight Night 10, and finished Chad Reiner in 13 seconds via knock out. Most wrestlers in the UFC use their wrestling to grind out decisions, and wear out their opponent. Johnson doesn’t fit this mold, and in his 7 UFC wins he finished 6 of them. His only decision win was over Dan Hardy, and Johnson admitted after the fight he was playing it safe because of the dangerous striking Hardy possesses.
The big difference in this fight, is that Johnson will be making his middleweight debut. There were rumors that Johnson was cutting more than 30 pounds to make welterweight, and has prompted many to say that he was a welterweight in a middleweights body. I always said he is a light heavyweight that was fighting welterweight. Johnson will have to cut 15 less pounds for his fight with Belfort, and we will see Saturday night exactly what that means for his fighting style and his energy levels in the cage.
Belfort has some obstacles to overcome in this bout. His style has always been to use unique angles to land strikes to finish his opponents. However, he will not only have to deal with a reach disadvantage, but also he will have to deal with staying out of the range of the Johnson’s take downs. Belfort will be harder for Johnson to takedown than most of his other opponents, but he has been susceptible to the ground and pound attack in the past. If Johnson was to play it safe, like he said he did against Hardy, than I think we already know his game plan. Belfort will have a speed advantage on Saturday night, and he certainly has the advantage with regards to Jiu Jitsu. However, we have seen time and time again that just a little BJJ defense goes along way in the octagon and in the judges eyes, and If Johnson can sit in half-guard and stay busy he can skate to a win that will look much like the one he had over Hardy. Can Belfort throw up a quick submission, and get the win? The answer is yes, and Johnson will have to be careful.
I think there is very little chance that Johnson will stand and trade with Belfort, and he will look to back Vitor up against the cage to get him down. Even with the reach advantage, Johnson will want to fight this fight in close quarters whether its standing or on the floor. The less room he gives Belfort to set up the better his chances. Belfort will make him work for it, and he won’t panic if he finds himself on his back with Johnson in top position. I see Johnson doing just enough to win this fight with his wrestling, and I don’t think it will be very entertaining to watch. Johnson has more to lose in this fight since Belfort already knows his next opponent will be Wanderlie Silva. I am taking Johnson by decision.
Style STRIKING 29% TAKEDOWNS 42% SUBMISSIONS 29%
Odds: -120 Reach: 75in Record: 20-9 UFC Record: 9-5 Last 5: 4-1 Streak: +1
Style STRIKING 32% TAKEDOWNS 40% SUBMISSIONS 28%
Odds: Even Reach: 78in Record:10-3 UFC Record: 7-3 Last 5: 4-1 Streak:+2