It seems that any thread involving the UFC middleweight title picture or Alan Belcher specifically will inevitably lead to someone, or several someones, mentioning that Alan Belcher doesn't get the respect he deserves as a legitimate top middleweight contender. I've been responding to everyone of these claims with the same answer so, hey, why not a quick fanpost?
There's a reason why when the name "Alan Belcher" does not conjure images of a top five middleweight and a legitimate title contender, and that's because Belcher has made a career of being hot and cold, and guy whose talent (heh "the Talent") and potential are always praised, but ultimately can never maintain any serious momentum.
See, the reason why so many people are picking him to lose to Vitor Belfort is that he's made a career of it. His entire UFC career has been a trend of gaining momentum, getting a big win that gets a little buzz around his name....and then promptly pissing it all away in his next fight. There's a reason fans aren't seeing Belcher as a potential title contender and underselling him against Belfort and that's that we've seen him in this situation before: Belcher comes off a big win, people start thinking that he just might be a top middleweight, and then he loses in his next fight. Each and every time Belcher gets some hype going, he loses.
First, Belcher walks into the UFC on a 7 fight winning streak, only to lose his UFC debut to Yushin Okami (a fight which was also Okami's UFC debut).
No problem. Belcher comes back in his next fight with an awesome, head kick knockout of Jorge Santiago. Maybe this guy is really good after all, and hey, that Okami guy turned out pretty good too, right? But no...Belcher pisses that away by getting submitted by Kendall Grove in his next fight.
Naturally, in typical Belcher fashion, he bounces back with a win over Sean Salmon, and then a fairly big win over Kalib Starnes. Starnes, at the time, was coming off a win over Chris Leben, the biggest of his career. With that win, maybe NOW was Belcher's time?
Nope, he gets knocked out by Jason Day, of all people. Yikes.
But then he rebounds again with a win over Ed Herman, but what really gets people talking about Belcher again was his submission win over Denis Kang. This was a BIG upset at the time. Kang came in with significant hype from Pride fans and some even speculated that he could be groomed into a future title contender. And with Kang being a Marcus Soares BJJ black belt, a Belcher submission was seen as the least likely outcome. But he pulled off. Belcher is suddenly buzz-worthy again.
But then he loses to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100....after a year off due to injury had basically killed all the buzz already.
It's always win a few, gain some buzz, and then lose it all with Belcher.
And the sad thing is, it's not ALL his fault. As I said, the Akiyama win was preceded by a long injury lay-off that really led people to forget the win over Kang, particularly given Kang's career trajectory thereafter.
Not every fall for Belcher has been his fault. He was once again gaining momentum after the Akiyama win with wins over Gouveia and Cote, but then took another injury lay-off of a year and half.
But it's clear why people are disregarding Belcher versus Belfort and not seeing him as a legit contender: we've seen the pattern before. A win over a B+ level middleweight like Rousimar Palhares is almost always followed by a major setback in his next fight. Each and every time. That's the most likely trend, but failing that, he'll suffer a major injury and disappear for a while.
Quite frankly, if Belcher can actually beat Belfort, it'd be the first time in his career that he's really effectively managed to follow up on a big win and win the fight after. That being said, maybe this is his time. Even with the injury cavern right in the middle of it, his current streak is far and away the longest he's had since he fought an insane seven times in one year (3 of them in one night) on the regional circuit and won all those bouts.