Last night in Brazil, the UFC on FX 8 card aired live from Brazil with a Middleweight main event of Vitor Belfort taking on Luke Rockhold. The bout was basically a pick ’em fight at the sport books, so it basically both sides had plausible scenarios at winning the fight. Unfortunately for Rockhold, two and a half minutes into the tension filled fight, Belfort landed a perfect spinning kick that dropped Rockhold. Belfort closed the distance and threw punches as Rockhold could do nothing but take shots until the referee stopped the bout. Rockhold, who was the former Strikeforce Champion who had reeled off 9 wins in a row, learned a harsh lesson about what the upper echeleon of the UFC Middleweight class can do.
A win for Rockhold would have propelled him into the top ranking of the division. Rockhold’s bold talk before the fight got under the skin of Belfort, and in retrospect it backfired. Belfort was focused and he delivered in the first round while Rockhold didn’t even get off. Rockhold’s friend and training partner, Daniel Cormier, was talking up Rockhold’s standup, but Belfort exposed him as another wrestler who fell in love with his stand up while it was still a work in progress. Obviously, Rockhold is not ready for prime time, and he will need to put together a few wins to be relevant in the division. Belfort’s future is a little brighter than before. He did the UFC a favor by taking on Jon Jones on short notice, but after a subsequent win his overtures for a title fight were met negatively by the general public, while UFC Dana White only offered a disdainful smirk and began a campaign against TRT. Even after this win, a match for Belfort with Jones or Anderson Silva is unlikely, although the Silva rematch would be a huge fight in Brazil. There is one scenario that could see Belfort step into a title fight quickly. Should Anderson Silva lose in his July outing against Chris Weidman, we could see Belfort in the title picture again, and Vitor got there by impressively dispatching Rockhold. Two other Brazilians put forth impressive performances on the main card as well, with ‘Jacare’ Souza and Rafael dos Anjos both picking up impressive wins. Souza dispatched Chris Camozzi with ease, rocking him on the feet before taking the fight to the ground and putting Camozzi to sleep with an arm triangle. Dos Anjos had a more difficult time with Evan Dunham, but still managed to pull out the decision victory over his late-charging foe. The Brazilian has continued to impress with his rapid improvement, and was able to outstrike a very capable fighter in Dunham. Both of these fighters are moving into contention in their respective divisions, and it will be interesting to see how they get matched up next.