UFC Fight Night 106 Preview: Belfort vs. Gastelum
The main event of UFC Fight Night 106 sees a Middleweight contest between Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (25-13) and Kelvin Gastelum (13–2). Belfort will be looking to get back in the win column in front of his home crowd as he challenges the young and promising Gastelum who will be fighting in enemy territory.
“The Phenom” has beaten both the current and former middleweight champions
Belfort made his UFC debut in 1997 and became the youngest person ever to pick up a win inside the octagon at the age of 19. The Brazilian is a former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion and won the Heavyweight Tournament back at UFC 12. Belfort has held titles in many MMA organisations and has challenged for the UFC Middleweight and Light Heavyweight titles on numerous occasions. Throughout his illustrious career, Belfort has continually fought the best fighters in the world and possesses victories over Wanderlei Silva, Luke Rockhold, Dan Henderson and current Middleweight champ, Michael Bisping. However, the 39-year-old is coming off two back-to-back TKO losses and hasn’t appeared to be at his best as of late.
Is the Middleweight Division the new home of Kelvin Gastelum?
Gastelum has looked impressive since his return to the Middleweight division. He most recently defeated experienced veteran, Tim Kennedy at UFC 206 via a third round TKO stoppage. Gastelum is undefeated at Middleweight and it’s often forgotten that he won TUF 17 while competing at 185lbs. Since winning the competition, he has flitted between the welterweight and middleweight divisions as he often looked undersized in the latter. However the troubles he faces making Welterweight have been well documented – he came in 10lbs over the limit in his fight with current Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. After some mixed results and catchweight bouts, it became clear the weight cutting was affecting him adversely. Recent images of Gastelum in training camp seem to suggest he is taking the nutritional side of things more seriously and settling into the stature of a more natural Middleweight so perhaps this will be his new permanent home.
Is retirement on the cards for Belfort if he loses yet again?
It will be interesting to see how the fight plays out on Saturday night. If Gastelum can weather the typical early storm Belfort usually brings, he can try to pick him apart in the later rounds. Alternatively, Belfort will need to pace himself and perhaps try to expose Gastelum’s ground game – much like Kennedy did in round one of their fight. With a loss on Saturday, it would be difficult to see where Belfort could go next. He recently hinted at retirement after his last loss and that may be the inevitable decision if things do not go his way. On the other hand, if Gastelum can add Belfort to his list of already notable wins, he will undoubtedly climb the rankings in his new division and most likely face someone in the top five in his next contest.
UFC Fight Night 106 goes down this Saturday from the Olympic Training Centre in Fortaleza, Brazil.