March 11th, 2017

UFC Fight Night: Fortaleza is one of the year’s most underrated cards

Collin Huguley @CollinHuguley
Gastelum Belfort

Kelvin Gastelum looks to shoot up the middleweight rankings with a win over the legend, Vitor Belfort. Mandatory Credit: Instagram/UFC

On Saturday night in Fortaleza, Brazil, the UFC is putting on a terrific card in UFC Fight Night 106.

This card has a little bit of everything, including a main event that features one of the greatest fighters of all-time against one of the sport’s brightest young contenders.

Vitor Belfort (25-13) and Kelvin Gastelum (13-2) will take part in a middleweight fight that will elevate one man to the upper tier of contenders in the division, while the other will be sent back to the drawing board. 14 years separate the two fighters in age and provide fighting styles that could bring fireworks.

Belfort, 39, is a former UFC light heavyweight champion and has seen it all in the sport. In his prime, he brought electrifying hand speed and powerful striking, making him a threat against anyone. But recently, Belfort has begun to show his age.

“The Phenom” has lost three of his last four fights, all by knockout, and was dominated in his last two fights by Ronaldo Souza and Gegard Mousasi. But with power like his, he remains dangerous for men who are not elite.

And in this fight, we will see if Gastelum can be elite at middleweight. Gastelum, 25, was a very good welterweight but was forced to move up after missing weight three times in his career. He is a former Ultimate Fighter winner at middleweight and is a terrific boxer. He is now No. 10 in the UFC middleweight rankings after his destruction of Tim Kennedy and can prove himself in the division with a win in this fight.

This matchup is one that could be electrifying on the feet if Belfort is able to pull the trigger. But this could also be a one-sided beatdown in favor of Gastelum if he can’t get in a groove on the feet.

The other fights on the main card are also terrific.

The lightweight fight between Beneil Dariush (14-2) and Edson Barboza (18-4) features two very talented fighters that could make a title push. Dariush has a great ground game and solid striking to complement it. If this fight goes to the ground, then Dariush could definitely get the submission win.

But Barboza is a dazzling striker that can end a fight with one big shot, just ask Terry Etim. This fight is the one that features the most skill on this card and will show a new top contender at 155 pounds.

In a light heavyweight fight, Gian Villante (15-7) will take part in an action-packed battle against former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (24-10). Rua, 35, is past his prime but has won back-to-back fight and can still be fun to watch. Villante is a legitimate top=15 guy at 205 pounds and regularly engages in fun fights.

Jussier Formiga (19-4) and Ray Borg (10-2) will also meet in a battle of top-10 flyweights.

This card is loaded with talent and, also, a few big names. These fights have action potential and this could be one of the year’s best non-PPV cards.

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