Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and MMA icon Vitor “the Phenom” Belfort will headline Saturday night’s UFC on FX 8, which will be broadcast live from the Arena Jaragua in Jaragua, Santa Catarina Brazil. It’s got the makings of a great show from top to bottom, so here’s a fight-by-fight breakdown to get you primed for the action.
Luke Rockhold vs Vitor Belfort
Rockhold is bringing a 9-fight win streak to the table and is battle tested, but this might be his toughest challenge to date. Belfort has been competing in MMA since the beginning and has seen his ups and downs, but his quick hands and KO power are always a threat to his opponents. Rockhold will likely be next in line for a shot at the UFC middleweight title if he can manage a win.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs Chris Camozzi
Jacare is another Strikeforce import, having held the promotion’s middleweight title before losing it to Rockhold. The Brazilian grappling ace is a nightmare for anyone on the ground and has shown a well-rounded offense in his recent fights. Camozzi is riding a 4-fight win streak in the UFC and has legit skills, but he’s taking a step up in competition and is considered by most to be a significant underdog.
Rafael Dos Anjos vs Evan Dunham
Dos Anjos and Dunham are a pair of tough journeymen in the UFC lightweight division, with four “Fight of the Night” bonuses between them. This fight could be an early favorite to win those honors once again as each man attempts to climb another rung up the 155 pound ladder.
Rafael Natal vs Joao Zeferino
Natal has a decided edge in UFC experience and will be making his 7th UFC appearance. Zeferino is a newcomer to the big stage but with a nickname as awesome as “the Brazilian Samurai”, it’s hard not to like the guy already. As two of the lesser known middleweights in the UFC, these two will have a great opportunity to earn some fans by fighting on the main card.
Hacran Dias vs Nik Lentz
Dias tore up the ranks in Shooto before landing in the UFC and managed to win his debut via decision. He risks his impressive 21-1-1 record against Lentz, who has 11 UFC fights under his belt and has looked exceptional since dropping to featherweight. Each man brings in a solid grappling background, so we might get to see a good display of wrestling vs jiu-jitsu.
Francisco Trinaldo vs Mike Rio
Trinaldo is something of an oddity in the sport of MMA, having fought on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” as a middleweight only to drop all the way down to 155 pounds for his next fight. Rio is also a veteran of TUF and will be making his sophomore outing after earning a submission victory in his UFC debut.
Gleison Tibau vs John Cholish
With 18 fights in the UFC, Tibau has been fighting at the highest level since Moby Dick was a minnow, and you don’t stick around that long by being a slouch. Cholish has wins in both Strikeforce and the UFC but enters this fight as a 2-1 underdog on the betting lines.
Paulo Thiago vs Michel Prazeres
Thiago burst onto the UFC scene with a surprise knockout victory over Josh Koscheck but his career has been on the skids lately, with just one win in his last five bouts. Prazeres is a UFC newcomer but is bringing a BJJ black belt and a perfect 16-0 record into the fold. Both guys will be looking to show up and perform well in their home country of Brazil.
Yuri Alcantara vs Iliarde Santos
This bout features a pair of tough Brazilian bantamweights. Santos will be making his debut and Alcantara has yet to really establish himself in the UFC, but a combined 53 wins between the two tells us that these guys are not rookies. Each will be looking to impress and make a statement to the 135 pound division.
Fabio Maldonado vs Roger Hollett
Former pro boxer Maldonado earned the respect of the entire MMA community with his gutty performance against Glover Teixeira, but he needs a win in order to avoid dropping his fourth straight fight. Hollett will be looking to earn his first UFC victory after losing a decision to Matt Hamill in his debut.
John Lineker vs Azamat Gashimov
Two burgeoning UFC flyweights will take to the cage in an effort to establish themselves in the pecking order. Lineker will look to follow up on previous success and grab another win. Gashimov makes his debut at 125 pounds and will be seeking to have his hand raised for the first time in the UFC.
Jussier Formiga vs Chris Cariaso
Both fighters are coming off of losses and will no doubt want to right the ship and catch a foothold in the UFC flyweight division. Cariaso has a solid striking pedigree but will have to beware Formiga’s grappling credentials, which includes black belts in both jiu-jitsu and judo.
Lucas Martins vs Jeremy Larsen
The match-up between Martins and Larsen features a battle between two young lightweight prospects. Both men were unsuccessful in their UFC debuts and will almost certainly be fighting to save their UFC careers. Given the stakes, we should expect to see a high intensity bout to kick off Saturday’s action on Facebook.