After Vitor Belfort's flash KO win over Matt Lindland the usual round of breathless speculation has begun:
- is the 'old' Vitor back?
- did the move down to 185lbs unlock his potential at last?
- will Vitor re-sign with the UFC and fight Anderson Silva?
- Could Vitor be the man to finally dethrone Silva?
Quick answers: 1. yes, he never left. 2. maybe, too soon to tell. 3. possibly and 4. no.
Here's the deal. Vitor Belfort has always been extremely dangerous if you walk into his left hand early in the fight. Lindland cut off the ring, threw an unbelievably awkward left hook and charged right into Vitor's power punch. Further proof that Lindland is no Randy Couture. That was the definition of bad gameplanning.
Getting a flash KO win over Lindland isn't all that either. Dave Terrell did that in 2004 and no one remembers him.
Honestly, Belfort's win over Terry Martin impressed me more. Seeing Belfort gut out a tough fight against a game opponent in the later rounds is much more impressive than another
flash quick KO win.
As far as his career prospects. I do agree with those who think Vitor might be headed back to the UFC. He's always been popular with the fans and doesn't need to be introduced to the UFC audience.
The risk factor with Belfort is do you dare give him a build up fight before his title shot? He's the kind of fighter who will let you down in that scenario almost half the time.
In my mind the ideal scenario would be to sign Belfort to the UFC, get Robbie Lawler free from EliteXC and put them into an immediate #1 contender fight. Either way the UFC wins and the resulting title fight could be the one that finally makes Anderson Silva a draw.
I'm not impressed by the return of the "old" Vitor -- the guy who gets quick wins over opponents who charge right into his wheelhouse.
I'm eager to see a "new" Vitor -- a fighter who can sprawl and evade takedowns, a fighter with a strong enough guard to not just survive but be a threat off his back, and most of all a fighter with the heart to go into the championship rounds hurt and still be a formidable offensive force.
Will we see that fighter in the UFC? Its too soon to tell.
UPDATE: Well one person at least isn't losing his head amidst the hype, and that's Vitor himself, from Tatame:
Vitor Belfort – "Next show it’ll be me and Fedor. We’ll see, that could be one of the options. I wouldn’t have to move up much in weight, I just won’t drop any. I’d just fight at my natural weight. I drop at least 10 pounds to fight. I wouldn’t have to drop anything and it would be a good opportunity."