UFC on FX 8 Main-Card Staff Predictions

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2013

UFC on FX 8 Main-Card Staff Predictions

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    The UFC breaks its current hiatus this Saturday, as the Octagon touches down in Brazil. The card is headlined by middleweight contenders Vitor Belfort and final Strikeforce champ Luke Rockhold.

    The card is host to a ton of Brazilian prospects and veterans that ensure this card will be a must-see. Almost every card in Brazil has delivered so far.

    So, Bleacher Report now presents you with the main-card predictions from the hard-at-work Bleacher Report MMA staff. Insight will be provided by Scott Harris, Sean Smith, McKinley Noble, James MacDonald and myself, Riley Kontek.

Rafael Natal vs. Joao Zeferino

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    Kontek: Joao Zeferino is a stud on the ground in terms of submission grappling, but taking a late-notice bout against a long-time UFC veteran is a tough task. Add to that the fact that Rafael Natal has developed his striking and is likely better on the ground, and this should be a gimme for him.

    Natal, Unanimous Decision

     

    Harris: I don't know Joey Zeferino from Adam; apparently he's a jiu-jitsu guy. Natal is a big, strong middleweight who has put together a fine little run in the UFC. He should keep it going Saturday night.

    Natal, Unanimous Decision

     

    Noble: After watching some tape on Rafael Natal, his UFC run hasn't been anything incredible. However, I'm far less impressed by the quality of competition that Joao Zeferino has beaten on his recent run. Let's play it safe and pick against the late replacement.

    Natal, Unanimous Decision

     

    Smith: This is the second straight outing where Natal has been forced to fight a UFC newcomer due to injuries and fight-card shuffling. Zeferino is on a good run, but he's been winning against mostly unknown competition. He could shock everyone and make a big splash, but the safe pick here is Natal, who has proven himself at the UFC level.

    Natal, Unanimous Decision

     

    MacDonaldBeing unfamiliar with Zeferino’s body of work, it’s difficult to give an informed opinion on the bout. Intuitively, I feel Natal will have too much for the UFC newcomer. Then again, Zeferino might turn out to be the Mike Tyson of MMA and do a number on Natal. Who knows?

    Natal, Unanimous Decision

Evan Dunham vs. Rafael Dos Anjos

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    Kontek: Evan Dunham was once the top prospect at lightweight, but now he is somewhat of a middler. Rafael dos Anjos has finally lived up to his potential as of late, but has a stylistic matchup that I would say plays into the hands of Dunham. Back to relevance for the American.

    Dunham, Unanimous Decision

     

    Harris: I really like Evan Dunham's toughness and all-around game, but he has historically struggled against the top guys. After his surprising domination of Mark Bocek, dos Anjos is one of those guys. I predict another ground-and-pound clinic.

    dos Anjos, Unanimous Decision

     

    Noble: Looking at this fight on paper, it's hard to see one area where either man has a clear advantage. Evan Dunham's got the wrestling to plant Rafael dos Anjos on his back repeatedly, but the risk of getting submitted is very high. That means it'll probably come down to striking, and the Brazilian has just a little more heat and variety on his hands and feet.

    dos Anjos, Unanimous Decision

     

    Smith: I know, I know. MMA math doesn't work, but what else are you supposed to go with when predicting a fight between two fighters so evenly matched in all areas? Dunham has a recent win over Gleison Tibau, who handed dos Anjos his most recent loss. The scrappier Dunham outlasts dos Anjos in a grinding, hard-fought battle.

    Dunham, Unanimous Decision

     

    MacDonald: I think Evan Dunham has a ton of potential. However, dos Anjos has looked terrific in recent bouts. This is a tough one to call, particularly given that their respective styles offer no additional clues as to who might have the edge. That being said, I’m leaning toward Dunham grinding his way to a decision.

    Dunham, Unanimous Decision

Ronaldo Souza vs. Chris Camozzi

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    Kontek: I love Chris Camozzi and think he has the heart of a lion, but this is an absolute buzzsaw he is walking into. Souza has improved his standup and takedowns, which will allow him to get Camozzi down and earn a tapout.

    Souza, Submission, Round 1

     

    Harris: I was a lot more excited when this was Souza and Costa Philippou. But such is life. Camozzi, a tough brawler, should put on a fine show, but Souza and his all-planet submission game will simply be too much.

    Souza, Submission, Round 2

     

    Noble: This match seems purely meant to showcase Jacare's talent on his home turf. He's far more versatile on the ground than the larger Chris Camozzi, while his striking continues to get better with each fight. Camozzi is incredibly durable, though, so I won't be shocked if he simply out-hustles Jacare en route to another controversial decision victory.

    Souza, Unanimous Decision

     

    Smith: I can't think of a much worse stylistic matchup for Camozzi's first shot at elite middleweight competition. The guy has been taken down by just about everyone who has tried to ground him inside the Octagon, and now he's set to meet one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world.

    Souza, Submission, Round 1

     

    MacDonald: This isn’t a great matchup for Chris Camozzi. The likable 26-year-old hasn’t as yet demonstrated that he can hang with top-level competition. And “Jacare” is already an accomplished mixed martial artist who seems to look better every time we see him. I expect the former Strikeforce 185-pound champ to drag Camozzi to the ground and secure a submission in short order.

    Souza, Submission, Round 1

Vitor Belfort vs. Luke Rockhold

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    Kontek: Luke Rockhold had a great career with Strikeforce, but he has never faced a talent like Vitor Belfort. Belfort has fast hands, power and a great ground game. He should lay waste to Rockhold at some point.

    Belfort, TKO, Round 2

     

    Harris: I know, I know. Belfort's old, he's washed up, he's shady (do people still say that?), he can't win the big one. But he's still Vitor Belfort, and he's being written off far too easily here. Everyone loves Rockhold, and I get that he's really good and exciting and marketable, but I think those hands of Belfort's will temporarily derail the plot of the Luke Rockhold Lifetime Movie of the Week. Sound the (mild) upset alarms.

    Belfort, TKO, Round 2

     

    Noble: As long as the drug-fueled Vitor Belfort is pumping himself up on TRT, it's hard to think he'll have much trouble putting Luke Rockhold away early. Once again, it just comes down to the first round. Rockhold needs to last five minutes just to stand a chance.

    Belfort, TKO, Round 1

     

    Smith: I'm baffled that Belfort is being pegged the underdog by oddsmakers. Rockhold might be a serious middleweight contender, but he's been inactive for 10 months and hasn't proven he's got the offensive wrestling to take away Belfort's dangerous striking.

    Belfort, TKO, Round 1

     

    MacDonald: The old lion—with the testosterone of a much younger lion—takes on the “athletic surfer” in what has turned into something of a grudge match. Stylistically, this is a tough fight to judge. Both are most comfortable on the feet, which is where I expect most of the fight to take place. However, I think Rockhold, being the more diverse striker, will be able to control the distance and pace of the fight, and outscore Belfort down the stretch.

    Rockhold, Unanimous Decision