UFC middleweight Vitor Belfort may be one of the most feared fighters in the division but he also comes with a glaring hole in his game where cardio is concerned. The powerful fan-favorite’s reputation for running out of energy after unleashing an early assault is as notorious as his heavy-handed striking, only winning two fights in the last six years outside of the opening round of action.
Belfort’s struggle to maintain the same pace from start to finish is a key area upcoming opponent Michael Bisping is focused on entering their January 19 bout at UFC on FX 7, and, if all goes according to plan, “The Count” plans on pasting his adversary as a result.
“I’m concerned that I’ve got my hands full. It’s not going to be easy. We’re fighting in Brazil. He hits hard. But I think I’ll weather the storm and he’ll become a punching bag,” admitted Bisping in an interview with MMAFighting. “It’s well documented, rightly or wrongly, that Vitor gasses quickly. He does slow down after the first round. Obviously, early for me is going to be the most dangerous. The longer the fight goes, he’ll start turning into a walking punching bag. At least that’s the plan. It’s easier said than done.”
“He’s going to come out hard and fast, and he will be dangerous,” he continued. “He’s a big middleweight. He’s been a heavyweight (tournament) champion, and was a light heavyweight champion back in the day. But these are the kind of fights I’m going to take if I want to back up my talking.”
The 23-4 Bisping’s confidence in his ability to turn up the heat in later rounds could come from the fact he hasn’t seen a first-frame finish in his last ten tilts, compiling a 7-3 record over the span. Comparably, Belfort’s last win after the initial five minutes of a fight came in 2008 when he stopped Terry Martin with strikes.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC