Anderson Silva confirmed his place in the MMA pound-for-pound rankings as he knocked out Vitor Belfort in the first round of their UFC 126 middleweight title fight.
Belfort misjudged a front kick by Silva and opened up enough to let the kick land squarely on his chin which led to the knockout at 3:25 of the opening round.
This fight began with an intense feel from the Mandalay Event Center crowd. Many booed Silva in hopes that Belfort would take out the champion and stand atop the 185-pound mountain. Silva walked around Belfort to open the round with the challenger standing in the middle of the Octagon. Not a single strike was thrown until 1:30 into the fight when Belfort threw a low kick to Silva’s lead leg. Halfway through the round, Silva gave no offense, but danced and taunted the challenger, much like he did at UFC 112. An attempted had kick was caught by Belfort and put Silva on his back for just a brief moment.
The fight quickly went back to the feet and the slow pace ended. Silva landed a laser sharp left front kick that landed square on Befort’s chin, rocking the challenger and disconnecting him from his senses. Belfort fell to his back in an obvious daze and Silva attacked from the top, landing a right hand, followed by a left. This signaled the end of the fight as Mario Yamasaki stepped in to put a stop to it.
“He wants to thank his coach for teaching him that kick,” Soares said. “That was just one of the strikes he was working on, but he was focusing on various types of kicks and attacks.”
Even though there was some definite tension between these two fighters going into this bout, Silva was gracious and applauded Belfort’s efforts. Recognizing his opponent’s past accomplishments, Silva asked the crowd to respect the defeated Belfort.
“He wants to make sure everybody respects Vitor Belfort because before he even stepped foot in fighting, Vitor was already a champion,” Soares explained. “So, he deserves the respect of everybody in this place.”
“I’ve been away for…one year already, (but) it’s not an excuse.” said the fallen challenger. “He caught me. Anderson Silva is a very good fighter.
“He faked the body and kicked to the head.”
Silva clearly holds a gap between himself and the rest of the roster in the UFC’s 185-pound division. It’s unclear who they’ll put against him next, but speculation has pointed to a superfight between Silva and Georges St. Pierre sometime in late 2011 or early 2012. If St. Pierre can get through Jake Shields, it will be interesting to see what Dana White and the rest of UFC brass will do.