UFC on FX 8 is this saturday, May 18th. The card features the debuting former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold against "The Phenom" Vitor Belfort. In addition to that, the card will also see the co-main event of Chris Camozzi taking on BJJ legend Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. Check out our complete forecast for the main card bouts!
Daniel Shoemaker: I’ve never heard of Zeferino before this fight. He seems to be fairly solid with a 13-4 record, currently riding a seven fight win streak. He holds nine submission wins, one over UFC veteran Sean Salmon. His UFC profile says he holds notable accomplishments in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, being a world champion and two-time South American champion. Natal is a fourth degree bjj blackbelt and has more experience in the big show. Natal likes to throw haymakers and brawl. I expect the two will cancel each other out on the ground and Natal will win with strikes.
Pick: Natal via TKO
Rich Klein: Both of these guys have great BJJ, which leads me to believe their ground skills will cancel it out. Credit to Zeferino for taking this fight on short notice, but I feel his inexperience in the UFC will affect him here against the now seasoned veteran. Having seen “Sapo” instruct and work at Renzo Gracie’s Fight Academy in Brooklyn, I can tell you first hand that the Brazilian’s standup is ever improving. Because of that I see his experience, striking, and athleticism giving him the edge.
Pick: "Sapo" Natal by unanimous decision
Daniel Shoemaker: This is a really close matchup. Both fighters are good on the feet and the ground with knockout and submission wins. Recently, dos Anjos seems to have tightened up his wrestling and striking, making the prediction harder to make. His last fight against regular UFC grinder Mark Bocek saw him stuff all of the Canadian’s takedowns and score four of his own. Dunham has never been submitted in a fight. His last fight saw him outstrike Gleison Tibau to a split decision win. He has never been submitted in a fight.
Though both fighters seem to be even, Dunham appears to have the faster hands. FightMetric shows him landing just over 50 percent more strikes per minute than dos Anjos. He has slight height and reach advantages and is southpaw. I feel Dunham is also the physically stronger fighter.
Pick: Dunham via decision
Rich Klein: Rafael dos Anjos and Evan Dunham should prove to be a fantastic matchup, with the fight being a strong contender for FOTN. Not too long ago, Dunham was on the cusp of being a lightweight contender. However after back-to-back losses to Sean Sherk and Melvin Guilard a couple years ago he’s now found himself fighting for relevancy once again. Dos Anjos on the other hand has been, in my opinion, has been flying under most people’s radar. It seems that the Brazilian is improving after each fight, having now won 3 in a row. While both are great on the ground, I feel Dos Anjos will have the advantage on the feet. If the Evolve MMA product can withstand the wrestling of Dunham, then he should be able to give the Brazil crowd another reason to cheer.
Pick: Dos Anjos by unanimous decision
Daniel Shoemaker: Camozzi is poised to make a huge upset. Coming in on short notice and then having his opponent changed twice. His has a 59 percent takedown defense rating, more KO/TKO wins than Souza, only three submission losses during his 24 fight career of 19 wins and five losses. He has competed for the UFC eight times compared to this being Souza’s first fight in the UFC.
How can you bet against Souza’s grappling versus an opponent not ranked in the top 10, though? His list of Brazilian jiu-jitsu accomplishments is tremendous, winning numerous world championships. He is arguably the best bjj practitioner in the UFC. His striking has improved quite a bit over his past few fights. Though he only has one knockout on his record, it came two fights ago. Camozzi’s last win with strikes came in 2007 (he earned a TKO win due to doctor stoppage for a cut against Nick Catone at UFC on FX 4).
Pick: Souza via submission
Rich Klein: Chris Camozzi has really found himself in one hell of an opportunity. To defeat a former champion in Jacare would be huge, and would surely put the 26-year old in the top-10. But this is where his 4-fighting winning streak gets snapped. Jacare is going to be a force in the division, and Camozzi is only but a stepping stone. While the American has some really solid Muay Thai, Jacare has vastly improved his standup and will nullify Camozzi’s attack. What this comes down to is simple. Jacare’s ground game is on a whole other level, with only Demian Maia or Roger Gracie matching him in the UFC. Camozzi has 3 submission losses in his career, and after Jacare takes him down to the canvas, he will have his 4th.
Pick: Jacare Souza by submission
Daniel Shoemaker: This is an interesting matchup of styles. I give Rockhold the edge in wrestling due to his training at AKA and his 70 percent takedown defense rating. Belfort has the bjj advantage since he is a black belt and we all saw how close he was on that armbar against Jon Jones. Belfort has the faster hands and hits harder, but Rockhold is the more dynamic striker and has a three-inch advantage in height and reach.
I think Rockhold is a perennial top contender in the making, but since I have to make a pick I am going with Belfort. This is Rockhold’s first fight in the UFC. He’s riding a nine-fight win streak, but only has 11 total career fights. If he were fighting in California or even just the United States I wouldn’t factor in nerves much, but he is making his octagon debut in the passionate fight country of Brazil, Belfort’s home country. I’m thinking Rockhold will start out a little slow and Belfort will put the pressure on him early.
Pick: Belfort via TKO
Rich Klein: The last time Vitor Belfort fought in Brazil he almost knocked Michael Bisping’s head into the crowd. The “Old Lion” looked like himself at 19-year old when he debuted at UFC 12. If he can mimic that performance than the Luke Rockhold will be in for a long night.
But there’s a reason the 28-year old Californian is in the main event for his UFC debut. The former Strikeforce champion has some legit contender ability. Besides having a very formidable background in BJJ, he has also put in a great deal of work with his Striking while at AKA. In his fights with “Jacare” and Tim Kennedy, he’s shown a great variety of strikes with his standup, especially his kicks. However he also has the tendency to reach and charge at an opponent, which is not what you want to do against one of the best counter punchers in MMA. If Belfort becomes privy to Rockhold’s timing and rhythm than it could be lights out for the UFC newcomer.
But I think Rockhold is smarter than that. I think he uses his length, wrestling and diverse strikes to throw Belfort off his game. With that, Rockhold will get the W and a title shot at either Chris Weidman or the great Anderson Silva.
Pick: Luke Rockhold by decision