UFC on FX 8 Belfort vs. Rockhold: Observer Picks & Preview


By Josh Nason

Yeah, it's ok to admit that Saturday's UFC on FX 8 show is a one-fight show. I'll say it, so you should feel comfortable saying it too. Enjoy the preview, full of guys that have mainly fought on prelims or in Strikeforce main events.

Our panel:

- Dave Meltzer (32-18): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

Todd Martin (33-17): Weekly FFD guest | LA Times | Sherdog

- Mike Sempervive (27-23): Wrestling Observer Live | Big Audio Nightmare

- Mike Sawyer (32-18)
of ToughTalkMMA.com

- Josh Nason
(34-16): Wrestling Observer web editor, social media guy

Oliver Copp (28-22) of combat sports insider fame

- Bryan Alvarez (26-11): Figure Four Weekly founder and writer

*Everyone had one loss removed due to the Pat Healy win becoming a no contest.

Luke Rockhold (10-1) vs. Vitor Belfort (22-10)

It's not that Luke Rockhold is a bad fighter or that he's had a 10 month layoff. It's not that he's the reigning Strikeforce champion, a belt that holds far less respect than the UFC equivalent. It's that while we can assume we know everything with the 28-year-old, we still need to learn a lot.

His in-cage time has been relatively limited the past three years due to injury and inactivity, but he did win both of his fights in 2012. The last was a bland decision win over Tim Kennedy, who is arguably not at the level of Rockhold's Saturday opponent, Vitor Belfort. The 36-year-old Belfort's last few opponents have been name value and he's been relatively active with four fights in less than 18 months. After nearly submitting Jon Jones in September 2012, he returned with a 2nd round TKO beatdown of Michael Bisping in January.

Quality of opponent matters and while Kennedy and Jacare Souza are talented, beating the 2012 version of Keith Jardine and Paul Bradley doesn't strike fear in the hearts of many men. Rockhold will have success, but to do it on Saturday might be a bigger order than he's ready for.

Belfort: Nason, Martin, Sawyer, Alvarez
Rockhold: Copp, Meltzer, Sempervive

Jacare Souza (17-3-0-1) vs. Chris Camozzi (19-5)

This fight was originally slated to be Souza vs. Costa Phillipou, but due to injury, we get Camozzi instead. The other fight sounded a lot better. Making his UFC debut, Souza could be a breakout star in 2013 -- a mix of charisma and talent that people love to get behind. He rides into Saturday on a three fight win streak with three finishes, his last a first round domination of Octagon vet Ed Herman in January. He's good and getting better.

That is bad for Camozzi who has a library quiet four fight win streak, last earning a split decision over Nick Ring in March. A short notice fight against a fighter who is quite better than he is and in his home country? That's not a great equation.

Souza: Nason, Martin, Sawyer, Copp, Meltzer, Alvarez. Sempervive

Evan Dunham (14-3) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (18-6)

While not big on name value, this fight could be quite good. dos Anjos has three straight wins and last decisioned Mark Bocek in November. He's beating the middle of the lightweight division and this would be another nice win for him Saturday. He's been in the UFC since November 2008, covering a span of 11 fights.

Dunham was near contendership in 2010, but consecutive losses to Sean Sherk and Melvin Guillard derailed him. Since then, he's 3-1 and last picked up a split decision win over Gleison "Gatekeeper" Tibau in February. A win here keeps him among the middle of the 155 pack, but may get him a bigger name amidst the group next time out.

Dunham: Martin, Sawyer
dos Anjos: Copp, Meltzer, Nason, Alvarez, Sempervive

Rafael Natal (15-4-1) vs. Joao Zeferino (13-4)

In a fight that no one cares about, Natal looks to win his fourth fight in his last five. Mainly a decision fighter, Natal last was seen submitting Sean Spencer on the January UFC on Fox undercard. He was originally slated to fight the aforementioned Camozzi. I'll admit I have never heard of Zeferino, but Sherdog tells me he's making his UFC debut on a seven fight win streak. He has nine submissions in 13 victories and last fought in March. The only fighter of note on his win ledger? Sean Salmon, aka The Guy That Got Head Kicked By Rashad Evans. Yes, That Head Kick.

Natal: Martin, Sawyer, Copp, Nason, Meltzer, Alvarez, Sempervive

Watch tonight on Fuel and FX, while checking out the coverage here on Wrestling Observer with "Mr. NYT" Dave Meltzer!

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