If Alan Belcher wants to win his fight against Rousimar Palhares, he needs to avoid the fight going to the ground.
If Rousimar Palhares wants to win the fight, he needs to make sure the fight gets there.
In the end, it's as simple as that, but what are the chances of each man getting what they want?
Belcher has proven to be competent on the ground and at striking, but Palhares is on another level when it comes to submissions. Indeed, Palhares is considered one of the best in the world when it comes to leg locks and heel hooks.
He has submitted three opponents in the UFC by heel hook and one by kneebar. That isn't including the other opponent he took out with an armbar.
Belcher has won submission of the night on two occasions himself, but playing to his opponent's strength would be a mistake. Belcher has the skills to keep the fight from going to the ground and the striking game to win the match.
He has been in a fight of the night twice, and while he is 1-1 in those bouts, his one loss was a close one. He must turn this match into a scrapper if he is intent on getting his hand raised.
Palhares has only one win by knockout. What's more, in a fight with Dan Henderson, he showed how limited he was when it came to being a complete MMA fighter. Palhares is already 32 and there is little chance of him changing his ways now.
Belcher has to be careful of Palhares changing levels and transitioning to his patented leg submissions or trying to goad him to the ground. If he can be patient, and be willing to hear more then a few boos in the process, he will come out victorious.
Belcher has shown an evolution in his mindset and in his skills inside the cage. While the Arkansas native will have some cage rust, having last fought in September 2011, he should have enough to beat his opponent and move on to the next one.
Expect a Belcher victory by unanimous decision.