Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold
Anderson Silva will soon be preparing to defend his Middleweight title against Chris Weidman in July. The winner of that bout will likely have a contender prepared for a fight shortly after as the final Strikeforce Middleweight title holder will be ready to make his UFC debut against a legend of the sport looking to continue dominating the division.
UFC on FX 8 will be held at the Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil on May 18th. Former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Vitor ‘The Phenom’ Belfort will headline the card against Luke Rockhold, the last Strikeforce Middleweight champ making his much-anticipated debut. Also on the card are Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, who will also be making his UFC debut and Canadian Light Heavyweight Roger Hollett, who is likely in a do or die situation. The four main card bouts will be aired live on FX in the US and Sportsnet ONE in Canada. There will be six preliminary bouts live on Fuel TV in the US and Sportsnet ONE in Canada. There are three remaining bouts that will be aired live on Facebook.
Now for the breakdown:
Vitor Belfort (22-10) vs. Luke Rockhold (10-1)
There is no denying how dominant Vitor Belfort has been in the Middleweight division, not including his lone loss against Anderson Silva. Coming off of a disappointing loss to Jon Jones for the Light-Heavyweight title, Belfort returned to 185 pounds only to knock out number one contender, Michael Bisping. He will have his hands full against a guy like Luke Rockhold, who will be making his debut in Belfort’s home country.
The duration of this fight will likely be spent on the feet. Both men are capable and proven strikers but with very different styles. Similar to Bisping, Rockhold likes to fight from a distance and control the pace. The difference is he has more power and versatility in his strikes. Belfort will storm in with his usual explosive movement as he aims to catch Rockhold for an early knockout.
If Belfort lands, it could be lights out for Rockhold. There are not many fighters that are as proven and powerful as the Brazilian slugger. His accuracy and patience seems to improve as his career moves forward but this will certainly be a stiff test. Rockhold is great at keeping his distance and avoiding big shots. If he is able to dictate the pace, Belfort will likely fade in the later rounds. It is a tough fight to pick but Rockhold is not so proven against a berserker like Belfort, which could be an issue for the Strikeforce veteran.
Prediction: Belfort via TKO Round 2
Ronaldo Souza (17-3) vs. Chris Camozzi (19-5)
As far as Middleweight contender fights, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza against Costa Philippou was definitely exciting. After Costa had to withdraw because of a bad cut, Chris Camozzi stepped up in what is still an intriguing bout. Few will likely be giving Camozzi a shot against Souza and with good reason. Not many can compare to Souza, who is becoming very well rounded but is still defined by his unstoppable ground game. He is a relentless grappler who seems to look better every fight.
If Camozzi keeps this fight standing, he will definitely be giving himself a shot. He is on a four fight win streak against some solid fighters and has a good opportunity to put himself in the top 10 with a win over Souza. The styles of both fighters are completely opposite. Camozzi is a patient fighter who will never consider taking the fight to the ground and he should not start doing so against Souza.
It is hard to see Souza not being able to eventually get the fight down. Even on the feet, he should be able to hold his own as his training with Anderson Silva has been beneficial for his career. If Souza does get it down, it will likely only be a matter of time before he gets the finish. Camozzi has some potential in MMA but Souza is too tough of a test for him.
Prediction: Souza via Rear Naked Choke Round 1
Rafael Dos Anjos (18-6) vs. Evan Dunham (14-3)
Few Lightweights in the UFC have been as impressive as Rafael Dos Anjos. His last three fights have been absolutely dominant against solid competition. Evan Dunham will present something he has not faced in a while: a well-rounded opponent to match his skillset. It is tough to predict where this fight will go but it is safe to say that regardless, it will be at an exciting pace.
Dos Anjos has made major improvements in his style and his opponents are struggling to adjust. His dominance of Mark Bocek showed how much more physically powerful he has become. Dunham is not one to be able to match that strength but his will and crafty style usually takes away from his opponent’s strengths.
Both guys are excellent grapplers and very talented strikers but have different styles. Standing up, Dos Anjos is a very technical striker. He will have to be very patient against a brawler like Dunham and pick his spots. As soon as Dunham begins to brawl, Dos Anjos will likely look to duck under and control the fight on the fence or the ground. Patience will likely be the difference in this fight.
Prediction: Dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision
Rafael Natal (15-4-1) vs. Joao Zeferino (13-4)
Rafael Natal was originally set to fight Chris Camozzi, but with some things switched around, Natal is forced to fight a newcomer and lesser-known opponent in Joao Zeferino. Natal has looked great since struggling at the beginning of his UFC career. He has displayed well-rounded skills and will need that against a BJJ ace in Zeferino.
Natal will likely want to keep the fight standing just to avoid what is known of Zeferino but he can certainly hold his own on the ground. Zeferino is being given a great opportunity for his debut and will want to take advantage. He will likely want to get the fight to the ground and control Natal from the top. If he is unable to, it could be a very rough debut. If Natal can maintain strong cardio in this bout, he should be able to wear down Zeferino with his jab en route to a decision win.
Prediction: Natal via Unanimous Decision
Fabio Maldonado (18-6) vs. Roger Hollett (13-4)
It was a less than stellar debut for Canadian Roger Hollett as Matt Hamill dominated him in an extremely boring decision. Despite the poor performance, he was given another opportunity in the UFC and it will be against the very exciting Fabio Maldonado. After winning his debut, Maldonado has dropped three straight bouts. Two of those bouts were questionable decisions but that last loss was a complete one-sided destruction that was so bad that people actually respect Maldonado more for trying to continue after the stoppage.
Hollett is fairly well rounded but he prefers to keep the fight standing. He has a good submission game but he likely will not be able to do much against Maldonado, who has excellent sweeps from the bottom. They will likely stay standing where these guys could very well get into a slugfest. On the feet, Maldonado is surprisingly technical and makes it tough for his opponents to dictate the pace. Maldonado will work the body and likely rock Hollett a couple times en route to a decision win.
Prediction: Maldonado via Unanimous Decision