What’s Next for Vitor Belfort?

Vitor Belfort reminded MMA fans that the “old lion” still has a lot of fight left in him on Jan. 19, stopping Michael Bisping during the second round of their “UFC on FX 7” encounter.

As expected, Bisping quickly established himself as the more technical striker, controlling the majority of the first round with his footwork and sharp counters. However, Belfort was able to catch the Brit off guard with a head-kick during the last 30 seconds of the first round, and Brazilian landed the same technique early in the second, leading to the TKO stoppage.

Unfortunately for “The Phenom,” while a win would have earned Bisping a shot at current UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, he won’t be awarded with the same opportunity.

Belfort called out Chael Sonnen shortly after his UFC on FX 7 victory, referring to the “American Gangster” as a “clown” amongst other things. As far as Vitor is concerned, Sonnen, doesn’t deserve a shot at current light-heavyweight champion, Jon Jones (a popular sentiment in the MMA community), and Belfort wants to be the one who steps in to face “Bones” at UFC 159.

However, Belfort doesn’t really have a case for a rematch against Jones.

Even though Vitor came close to finishing an armbar during the first round of his UFC 152 encounter against Jones (he ended up getting submitted during the fourth round), it’s highly unlikely that he’d fare any better against the light-heavyweight champ if the two square up again. Jones made it clear he was the better fighter at UFC 152, making a rematch a tough fight to sell, especially with guys like Alexander Gustafson — and perhaps Daniel Cormier — lurking around.

Vitor would be better off focusing on the middleweight division, since he has a better chance of securing a title shot with one or two more wins against top contenders.

If Hector Lombard wasn’t already set to face Yushin Okami at “UFC on Fuel TV 8,” he would be the perfect opponent for Belfort’s next fight: two aggressive guys with serious punching power.

With Lombard booked, Chris Weidman would be the next best option, but it’s hard to predict when “The All-American” will be ready to step inside the Octagon. Weidman recently pointed towards a summer return, but he still has his sights set on fighting Silva.

“I’ll be back in [the] summer and that’s when Anderson wanted to fight..coincidence? I think not : ),” Weidman tweeted.

Like Belfort, Weidman is also overreaching, since he hasn’t yet earned the right to challenge Silva for the title. An impressive victory against Mark Munoz isn’t enough to make up for the dismal performance he had against Damian Maia (tough weight cut and all) at “UFC on Fuel TV 4,” so he’ll need at least one more win against a top middleweight to earn the number one contender spot.

Thus, a Weidman vs. Belfort bout for the right to challenge Silva for the title might not be a bad idea.

Belfort’s third best option would be a fight against Rockhold, and the Strikeforce middleweight champion doesn’t seem to mind the idea.

“I’m healthy and ready to fight whoever @ufc wants,” Rockhold tweeted shortly after Belfort’s victory against Bisping.

With the UFC’s middleweight title picture in disarray; it doesn’t look like Silva will defend his belt anytime soon. Right now, Rockhold is the only one who has a legitimate case for a shot at Silva, since it would give the UFC the opportunity to organize a champion vs. champion fight.

David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 8 years. Follow him on Twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.


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