When looking at the main event for UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Rockhold that will take place on May 18, 2013 in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil, the story is the same for Vitor Belfort as it is in many of his fights: if the fight drags into the later rounds, Belfort is likely to fade. After a stunning effort in his first round against Jon Jones, Belfort faded in his shot at the title. After slowing down considerably in rounds 2 and 3, Jones was able to finally put the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt away with a simple americana. In reality, it was a mercy submission; after the first round, Belfort was done.
Luke Rockhold, on the other hand, has shown in his fight with ‘Jacare’ Souza that though he may be guilty of starting slow, he can pour it on in championship rounds. That fight was largely won in rounds 3-5; Souza started out strong but Rockhold found his rhythm later and took the later rounds for the victory.
If Belfort wants to win the fight, he has to do it in the first round or two. The likelihood of landing a strong punch or flurry after the first ten minutes decreases considerably and Belfort has been known for fading throughout his career. Power is the main advantage that Belfort holds over Rockhold and if he wants to win the fight, he has to swarm on Rockhold quickly. Rockhold will want to sit at distance and pick Belfort apart with his array of kicks. Belfort needs to channel some of his early fights and put his hands on Belfort early.
I think it is very unlikely that these fighters reach the floor; Belfort may try to take down Rockhold if he feels like he is getting peppered on the feet. However, I don’t think he will be able to close the distance well enough to drag Rockhold to the ground. I think Rockhold will be able to set up his distance-striking game. As long as Rockhold is able to use his length to stay away from Belfort’s swarms, he should be able to take Belfort into the deep waters of the late rounds. At that point, look for Rockhold to cruise to a unanimous decision victory.