Power Ranking Every Fight on the UFC on FX 7 Card

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2013

Power Ranking Every Fight on the UFC on FX 7 Card

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    UFC will bring their first event of the year to the masses, live and free, from São Paulo, Brazil this Saturday.

    UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping features nine fights on the card, and it is capped off by a big middleweight clash between Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping. A victory by Bisping will earn him a title shot against long-time champion Anderson Silva.

    The rest of the card features a mixture of veterans, newcomers, and some other interesting matchups.

    Before 2013 kicks off in full swing, the UFC has a solid night of action awaiting fans in this event.

    Here are your power rankings for the entire fight card.

No. 9: Francisco Trinaldo vs. C.J. Keith

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    Francisco Trinaldo (11-2) and C.J. Keith (8-1) will open the card in the one and only Facebook preliminary bout.

    Trinaldo returns to the cage after dropping his last outing to Gleison Tibau. He will try to pick up his second win inside the Octagon and hand Keith his walking papers.

    Eight straight wins earned Keith a trip to the UFC, but Ramsey Nijem quickly put a loss on his record. Now, his back is against the wall against Trinaldo at UFC on FX 7.

    This fight suffers from people simply not caring about it. That is why it comes in at No. 9.

    There is a possibility of an exciting finish, but overall, it is just here to warm up the crowd and get them ready for the night ahead. Unless something remarkable happens, this fight will be forgotten about quickly.

No. 8: Ronny Markes vs. Andrew Craig

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    It has been quite some time since we have seen both Ronny Markes (13-1) and Andrew Craig (8-0) inside the Octagon. But they'll meet each other at middleweight in this event and try to keep their streaks alive.

    Why are two fighters with solid records listed this far down in the power rankings. Well, their fights have just not been exciting.

    Craig's knockout of Natal was an exciting moment, but the overall fight was not, and this matchup with Markes will probably produce another fight of minimal action. Expect some grappling against the fence.

    The most important thing for the fighters is the win, but they are not going to thrill the crowd in the process.

No. 7: Daniel Sarafian vs. C.B. Dollaway

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    C.B. Dollaway (12-4) will try to pick up his second straight victory over the debuting Daniel Sarafian (7-2) in the night's co-main event of the evening.

    Sarafian had to pull out of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil finale due to injury last year, and he will be trying to make an impressive debut in his home nation.

    Dollaway avoided three straight losses with a big unanimous decision win over Jason Miller last May.

    The stylistic matchup could produce a hard-fought three-round fight, but the main reason it comes in at No. 7 because both fighters have been away from the Octagon for a long time. How much ring rust will both men have, and how will that effect the fight? There are big question marks for both fighters.

    Sarafian looked good on The Ultimate Fighter, but Dollaway can smother him with his wrestling. This may just be a palate cleanser before the main event.

No. 6: Godofredo Castro vs. Milton Vieira

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    Godofredo Castro (8-1), better known as Pepey, will take on Milton Vieira (13-7-2) in a featherweight tilt.

    Pepey lost to Rony Jason in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, and Vieira returns to the Octagon after a split draw against Felipe Arantes.

    The featherweights will not have much of an impact on the rankings, but the fight should deliver solid action.

    Castro and Vieira will cap off the FUEL TV preliminary card for good reason, and they will leave it all in the cage for their host country. They will go toe-to-toe as they are both hoping to pick up their first win under the UFC banner.

No. 5: Edson Barboza vs. Lucas Martin

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    Edson Barboza (10-1) returns to the cage for the first time since losing to Jamie Varner last May. He will welcome Lucas Martin (12-0) to the UFC in the first fight on FUEL TV.

    This is a fight that could produce fireworks.

    However, on paper, this looks like a mismatch. The bout will feature a incoming prospect in Martin against one of the fastest rising lightweights in the UFC today. That is a steep hill to climb for the fortmer.

    Stylistically, it looks as if someone will finish this fight.

    This fight could be one of the better bouts of the night, but until we see just how Martin performs under the bright lights of the UFC, it doesn't belong further up on the list.

No. 4: Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ben Rothwell

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    The heavyweights are not to be forgotten as Gabriel Gonzaga (13-6) and Ben Rothwell (32-8) meet at UFC on FX 7.

    Both heavyweights are coming of victories in early 2012, and a victory will earn them a higher profile bout later on in 2013.

    This one will probably not go to the judge's scorecards.

    Rothwell will need to be careful in this fight. If he chooses to wrestle then he will be trying to take down one of the better jiu-jitsu practitioners in the division, and if he stands, Gonzaga has KO power.

    The heavyweights will bring the action in Brazil for your entertainment.

No. 3: Thiago Tavares vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

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    Lightweights will take notice when Thiago Tavares (17-4-1) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (18-0) meet in an important lightweight battle on the main card.

    Tavares has won two straight and is 4-1-1 in his last six bouts. Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov remains undefeated and seeks to run his UFC record to 3-0 with a win.

    The winner of this bout will make a significant step up the lightweight ladder. And when you throw the fact that this will be a stylistic matchup, you have one of the best fights on the card.

    If the fight gets to the ground, that will be when the fun starts. Both Tavares and Nurmagomedov are excellent grapplers. The two tough 155-pounders may not be able to finish the other, but this should be 15 minutes of pure fun.

No. 2: Diego Nunes vs. Nik Lentz

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    Undeservedly stuck on the undercard is a thrilling featherweight matchup between Diego Nunes (18-3) and Nik Lentz (22-5-2, 1 NC).

    The winner of this fight will surely move in to the top-10 of the division, in spite of only picking up their second straight win.

    Lentz made an emphatic featherweight debut with a TKO win over Eiji Mitsuoka at UFC 150. He will be put to the test against Nunes, who remains one of the most talented fighters in the division. This is a great test for each fighter to prove that they can avoid the other's strength.

    This bout will come down to who can implement their style of offense.

    Outside of the main event, this is the fight that offers the most immediate impact on the divisional rankings. It is a shame that it will not be on the main card.

No. 1: Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping

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    The best fight on the card is clearly the night's main event. After unsuccessfully challenging Jon Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, Vitor Belfort (21-10) returns to the middleweight division to take on top contender Michael Bisping (23-4).

    Bisping will get a shot at the UFC Middleweight Championship with a victory, but Belfort will not have the same opportunity. However, Belfort still has plenty to fight for.

    In order to get his next title shot, a devastating victory at UFC on FX will catapult Belfort up the ranks.

    This fight seemingly could go in one of two ways: a blistering KO finish from Belfort, or a grinding performance from Bisping. But do not let the word "grinding" fool you; Bisping does not lay and pray.

    This fight pits two excellent fighters against each other in a high stakes matchup, so the fight will deliver great action. It is clearly the best fight on a relatively weak card. The main event will hope to set the tone for the UFC in 2013.