UFC on FX 7 Results: Grades for All Main-Card Fighters
The eight main-card fighters collectively created a sonic boom that drowned out the drone that was the preliminary card.
There were two knockouts, a submission and a three-round war. In the main event, would-be middleweight title challenger Michael Bisping squandered another big chance against former middleweight title challenger Vitor Belfort.
Let us now grade each main-card fighter's performance.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: A
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Result: Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Thiago Tavares by KO, 1:55 of Rd. 1
Was a contender born Saturday night?
Nurmagomedov (19-0, 3-0 UFC) didn't pound out Tavares (17-5-1, 7-5-1 UFC). He clubbed him out. The Russian felled Tavares with a left and then just hammered him with seriously painful-looking elbows.
The performance was marred a bit by a late stoppage from referee Dan Miragliotta, but still, Nurmagomedov smelled blood and closed the deal against a veteran and a crowd favorite in Tavares.
The man just keeps improving and looks dangerous in every facet.
Thiago Tavares: C-
Photo credit: MMA Oddsbreaker
I was tempted to give Thiago Tavares a grade of "Incomplete."
He never got in gear and was overpowered by the younger fighter. Tough one for Tavares. He's an adequate UFC lightweight, but that's about it.
Gabriel Gonzaga: B+
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Result: Gabriel Gonzaga def. Ben Rothwell by submission (guillotine choke), 1:01 of Rd. 2
After his takedown attempts yielded mixed results in Round 1, Gonzaga hurt Big Ben with a punch early in the second and followed up with a guillotine.
It didn't look incredibly deep to me, but it was enough to finish a visibly tired Rothwell. Gonzaga was huffing a little himself, so I'm sure he was relieved to end his workout.
Either way, it's a strong win and now three straight for "Napao." But it's not like I'm still reeling in my seat over it. He'll probably get another big name, then lose, then start beating lesser competition again. It's the circle of life.
Ben Rothwell: C-
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Rothwell held his own early, but then he faded. And this wasn't a "faded down the stretch" situation either. It was the second freaking round.
I like me some Rothwell. And that's exactly what makes it so frustrating to see such a big, powerful guy consistently fail to find consistency at this level.
C.B. Dollaway: B
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Result: C.B. Dollaway def. Daniel Sarafian by split decision
Maybe the best fight of the night saw Dollaway fend off the Brazilian's constant charges and land plenty of his own damage.
He had trouble landing takedowns on the fire hydrant that is Sarafian, but he was able to hold up his end and then some in what eventually congealed into a wild stand-up brawl.
In fact, Dollaway might have scored a TKO if the second round had ended even five seconds later. The fight could have gone either way, but Dollaway felt like the right choice to me.
Daniel Sarafian: C
Photo credit: Sherdog
Sarafian was sloppy, but he's got plenty of talent.
He cracked Dollaway many times on the feet and got the better of the ground exchanges more than once by pulling off some slick sweeps on the college wrestling standout.
Ultimately, he just took a little more than he dished out. He should be back for another go in the UFC, though.
Vitor Belfort: A
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Result: Vitor Belfort def. Michael Bisping by TKO, 1:27 of Rd. 2
Belfort doesn't care about your plans, UFC.
At the end of the first round, Belfort landed a left high kick that rocked the British kickboxing champ, but he couldn't quite close the deal. He didn't make the same mistake twice, though.
Early in the second, Bisping lowered his hands and came forward, and the same kick immediately thundered home. Belfort finished off "The Count," and the UFC's middleweight title plans, with punches and hammerfists on the ground.
Oddly, in his post-fight interview with broadcaster Jon Anik, Belfort called for a rematch with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and bashed current challenger Chael Sonnen, calling him a "clown" and telling him to "go home."
A Jones rematch seems unlikely for Belfort, but he may now be one fight away from a rematch with Anderson Silva.
Michael Bisping: D-
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Another opportunity unfulfilled for Michael Bisping.
Bisping seemed tentative and disorganized from the opening horn, pawing at Belfort with powerless jabs and, as was eventually made abundantly clear, failing to adequately defend himself.
Bisping now may be the Tony Romo of the MMA universe: always the bridesmaid, never the bride. And then fumbling the bouquet when it hits his hands.
A real winner Saturday night might be the other top middleweights who are now that much closer to a fight with Silva. Chris Weidman is among them. As is Strikeforce champion and now UFC middleweight Luke Rockhold, who fired off this simple but telling tweet minutes after the stoppage:
:)— Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) January 20, 2013
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