What does it mean when you lose to the greatest fighter on the planet? In my book, it means simply that you are at most the second greatest fighter on the planet. Nothing more. You may be a good fighter, you may be a bad fighter, but your abilities can hardly be determined by a loss to the best in the sport. Unfortunately for Vitor Belfort, in a sport where athletes compete a mere 2-4 times a year, the image of Anderson Silva’s jaw-jarring front kick rearranging The Phenom’s mandible left a long-standing and stock-dropping impression. This brought to a halt nothing short of a career renaissance for Belfort, coming into the fight with three straight KO’s over Terry Martin, Matt Lindland (who at the time was still competing at a very high level) and his return to the octagon in which he joined Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida as one of the only three men to ever stop Rick Franklin....

After the loss to Silva, Belfort promptly returned to his newfound winning ways with a first round demolition of the iron-jawed, super-tough Sexiyama, confirming my suspicions that Vitor Belfort may well be the second best Middleweight on the planet. The dramatic KO loss to Silva cast an unfairly dark shadow over his resurgence, leaving the former UFC champ undervalued. Belfort is incredibly experienced and well rounded, possessing wrestling solid enough to fend off the better grapplers in the division and some of the most lethal striking in the entire sport.

Enter Anthony Johnson. Johnson is a dangerous fighter with well rounded striking and very decent wrestling who will be making his Middleweight debut after years of chasing liquids from his body like they were evil spirits. The former Welterweight will likely have improved energy and composure fighting at his more natural weight, but, all due respect to Johnson, he is way out of his league here. Johnson is a good wrestler, but has been man-handled by better ones (Koscheck) and does not pose a significant grappling threat to the larger Vitor. His striking is powerful and diverse but he has never KO’d a decent striker and certainly never exchanged blows with someone on The Phenom’s level.

Johnson has a bright and exciting future in the sport, but come Jan. 14th I see Vitor continuing his climb back atop the Middleweight contender list with a KO victory via superior technique, speed and aggression. At -130 Belfort is a great bet.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.