UFC on FX 8 Results: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
Luke Rockhold received a wake-up call in his Octagon debut at UFC on FX 8. The former Strikeforce champion had a long winning streak end with a spinning heel kick from Vitor Belfort in the first round.
Now the owner of back-to-back wins over opponents, who likely would have earned title shots had they beaten him, Belfort has emerged as the middleweight most deserving of a fight with the winner of an upcoming title bout between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman.
The only reasonable way for Belfort to be denied that chance would be Silva taking a superfight or the champion finding himself in an immediate rematch with Weidman after an upset loss.
Rockhold, meanwhile, might have to take a significant step down in competition and prove he really is among the elite UFC middleweights.
With UFC on FX 8 in the books, let's take a look at what should be next for Rockhold and the rest of the event's competitors.
Lucas Martins vs. Mike Ricci
After losing to Edson Barboza in his first UFC matchup, Lucas Martins was in need of a win on Saturday in order to remain under contract with the world's top MMA promotion.
Not only did Martins beat Jeremy Larsen at UFC on FX 8, but he earned Fight of the Night honors by eating some big shots and returning fire until he knocked his opponent out with a counter right hand.
While it's tough to let a guy go after a Fight of the Night performance, Larsen's bonus may turn out to be a parting gift. It was surprising enough to see the TUF participant receive another fight after losing to Joe Proctor in his UFC debut.
Now that he's earned himself some UFC job security, Martins can start slowly moving up the lightweight ladder. A bout with a TUF runner-up in Mike Ricci would be a logical progression.
Azamat Gashimov vs. Chris Cariaso
A move to flyweight did not turn Azamat Gashimov's career around as planned.
After being knocked out by John Lineker on Saturday, Gashimov has now lost in his two UFC appearances. However, having also been defeated by top-10 bantamweight Ivan Menjivar, Gashimov has not exactly been given an easy path to success inside the Octagon.
As a competitor in the developing 125-pound class, Gashimov could get one more shot at his first UFC win.
That opportunity could come against Chris Cariaso, who also lost at UFC on FX 8. Following his decision defeat against Jussier Formiga, Cariaso is in the midst of a two-fight UFC losing streak as well.
John Lineker vs. Jussier Formiga
John Lineker is taking advantage of the lack of depth in the flyweight division.
Though he lost in his UFC debut against Louis Gaudinot, Lineker is starting to look like a contender after picking up a second straight win on Saturday. Before he gets a fight with an elite 125-pound opponent, though, Lineker should have to beat an adversary with a UFC win.
Formiga picked up his first UFC victory at UFC on FX 8 by beating Chris Cariaso. A bout between Formiga and fellow Brazilian Lineker would make sense from a timing perspective and should set the winner up for a big step up in competition.
Fabio Maldonado vs. Ovince St. Preux
A loser of three straight fights heading into UFC on FX 8, Fabio Maldonado was in desperate need of a victory.
Despite a slow start, Maldonado eventually got going and battered Roger Hollett's body with punches en route to a decision win. After fading badly and losing in his first two UFC appearances, Hollett is in serious danger of being released from the organization now.
Maldonado had previously been considering a drop to the middleweight division, though it's possible Saturday's bout was a sign that he was not confident in his ability to hit 185 pounds. If the Brazilian does remain at 205 pounds, a bout with Ovince St. Preux could provide another scrappy stand-up battle.
Iliarde Santos vs. Darren Uyenoyama
A Marcos Vinicius injury allowed Iliarde Santos to step up on short notice and make his Octagon debut at UFC on FX 8.
While things didn't go Santos' way in a first-round knockout loss to Yuri Alcantara, the fight was a way for the UFC newcomer to get his foot in the door with the world's top MMA promotion. Now, Santos can return to his more competitive weight of 125 pounds, where he fought to a split decision with UFC veteran John Lineker in September 2011.
For his first flyweight bout inside the Octagon, Santos should meet Darren Uyenoyama, who is also coming off his first UFC loss.
Yuri Alcantara vs. Bryan Caraway
Yuri Alcantara seems to have made an excellent decision in moving to the bantamweight class.
Alcantara dominated his first 135-pound fight against Pedro Nobre before it ended in a no contest, and he picked up another win over a fellow Brazilian in Iliarde Santos at UFC on FX 8.
It's time for Alcantara to meet a more proven UFC bantamweight. A bout between Alcantara and Bryan Caraway could set the winner up for a shot at a top-10 bantamweight or at least a fringe contender in the division.
Paulo Thiago vs. Colton Smith-Robert Whittaker Winner
After losing four of his prior five fights, Paulo Thiago managed to keep his UFC career going with a win on Saturday. It wasn't all that pretty, but Thiago's ground game was just strong enough to edge UFC newcomer Michel Prazeres on the scorecards.
While he salvaged his job with the victory, Thiago is looking more and more like a gatekeeper in the UFC welterweight division. In the past three years, Thiago's only beaten Prazeres and David Mitchell, two fighters who have combined for one UFC win.
Until he shows he can provide more than a test for up-and-coming fighters, Thiago should find himself competing against the likes of the winner of an upcoming clash between TUF champions Colton Smith and Robert Whittaker.
Gleison Tibau vs. Reza Madadi
After losing to Evan Dunham, Gleison Tibau took a step down in competition to help turn things around.
Though it didn't do much for his standing in the lightweight division, Tibau's second-round submission win over John Cholish on Saturday did help the Brazilian avoid losing back-to-back fights for the first time since July 2008.
Cholish, meanwhile, goes out on a sour note after proclaiming he'd be retiring from MMA no matter the result of his bout with Tibau.
Looking forward to my last fight today, Win, Lose, or Draw - I'll do my best to put on a strong performance and of course be Having Fun!— John Cholish (@JohnCholish) May 18, 2013
Although Tibau is back in the win column, it'd be nice to see the UFC veteran slowly work his way up the lightweight chain and build some momentum for once instead of immediately getting back into there with a borderline 155-pound contender. A fight with Reza Madadi could provide an interest grappling matchup.
Mike Rio vs. Yancy Medeiros
After beating John Cofer in his UFC debut to maintain a roster spot with the organization, Mike Rio couldn't climb his way out of the lightweight division's basement at UFC on FX 8.
Rio went into enemy territory for a fight with Francisco Trinaldo, who secured a first-round submission in front of his home crowd in Brazil. Since he came up short on his opportunity to beat a fellow prospect on the rise, Rio will now have to take a step back and meet an opponent coming off a loss.
Yancy Medeiros, who recently suffered an injury in a bout with Rustam Khabilov, would be a logical opponent for Rio once he's healed and ready to go again.
Francisco Trinaldo vs. Rustam Khabilov
Francisco Trinaldo, despite being 34 years old, is beginning to look like one of the brighter prospects in the lightweight division.
After beating Mike Rio on Saturday, Trinaldo has only lost to Gleison Tibau in his four UFC bouts.
It'd now be interesting to see Trinaldo tested by another powerful grappler like Tibau. A bout between Trinaldo and fellow rising 155-pound fighter Rustam Khabilov would likely set the winner up for a big step up in competition.
Hacran Dias vs. Dennis Bermudez-Max Holloway Loser
Hacran Dias suffered his first UFC loss at UFC on FX 8, but he's still a very promising new face in the featherweight division.
Against the more experience Nik Lentz, Dias had trouble dealing with his opponent's aggression and relentless takedown attempts in the first two rounds. Dias finished the fight strong, though, controlling Lentz on the ground in the third stanza to show he has the ability to hang with top-10 featherweights.
While Dias will have to take a step down in competition, he should still find himself in a fight with a highly skilled opponent. A bout with the loser of a fight between rising youngsters Dennis Bermudez and Max Holloway would make sense for the Brazilian.
Nik Lentz vs. Clay Guida
Nik Lentz has solidified himself as a serious contender in the 145-pound division.
With three straight wins since moving to the featherweight class, Lentz is deserving of his top-10 ranking. However, Lentz has not had the most fan-friendly fighting style over the course of his career, which may hurt him the same way that Jon Fitch was denied a rematch with Georges St-Pierre for so long.
A bout with a fellow wrestler like Clay Guida could force Lentz into a more action-packed contest to show he's capable of being entertaining against elite competition.
Joao Zeferino vs. Michel Prezeres
Joao Zeferino faced a tough challenge against veteran Rafael Natal in his UFC debut.
More suited for the welterweight division, Zeferino accepted the middleweight bout with Natal on short notice as a way to get in with the world's top MMA organization. Size may have played a factor in the fight, as Zeferino found himself underneath Natal for a good portion of the latter two rounds.
Look for Zeferino to make the move to 170 pounds, where he could meet fellow UFC on FX 8 loser Michel Prazeres, who was bested by Paulo Thiago.
Evan Dunham vs. Nate Diaz
Evan Dunham was on the verge of becoming a top-10 lightweight heading into UFC on FX 8, but he's still on the outside and looking in after a controversial decision loss.
Despite out-landing and out-wrestling Rafael dos Anjos, Dunham lost the first two rounds on all three judges' scorecards. As a result of the questionable call, Dunham should still find himself competing against a top-10 lightweight in his next outing.
Nate Diaz is coming off a loss as well and wouldn't at all mind scrapping with an entertaining fighter like Dunham. Although he's on a 90-day suspension, Diaz should be ready to go right around the same time that Dunham would making his way back to the Octagon.
Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov-Abel Trujillo Winner
Rafael dos Anjos may have maintained his top-10 ranking with a win over Evan Dunham, but it's probably not a victory that will earn him a shot at a top-five lightweight.
Dos Anjos hit Dunham with plenty of clean shots, but he was on his heels for most of the fight and had few answers for his opponent's wrestling in the first two rounds. Even UFC president Dana White felt Dos Anjos hadn't done enough to get the win.
Dunham got ROBBED!!!!
— Dana White (@danawhite) May 19, 2013
A bout with another borderline top-10, 155-pound opponent like Khabib Nurmagomedov, should the Russian beat Abel Trujillo in his upcoming fight, would give Dos Anjos a chance to prove he is deserving of a shot at a top lightweight contender.
Chris Camozzi vs. Rafael Natal
It's a common UFC practice for fighters coming off a loss to be matched up with opponents who also lost in their last outing, but Chris Camozzi may be excused from that rule after stepping up to fight Ronaldo Souza on short notice at UFC on FX 8.
Camozzi was scheduled to fight Rafael Natal before a Costa Philippou injury prompted his move to the co-main event with Souza.
Since Natal wasn't all that impressive in victory over a UFC newcomer in Joao Zeferino on Saturday, he could find himself back in a matchup with Camozzi in the coming months.
Ronaldo Souza vs. Mark Munoz-Tim Boetsch Winner
Ronaldo Souza didn't show any Octagon jitters in picking up his first UFC win on Saturday.
Souza's fight with Chris Camozzi was a step down from his originally scheduled matchup with Costa Philippou, though. So, before talk of title shots can begin for the Brazilian, he'll have to prove himself against a top-10 UFC middleweight.
A bout with a wrestler potentially capable of taking away Souza's jiu-jitsu would be interesting. If he can beat Mark Munoz or Tim Boetsch on the ground, it'll be time to start looking at "Jacare" as a serious title threat.
Luke Rockhold vs. Alan Belcher
Luke Rockhold may have taken on too much too soon in facing Vitor Belfort in his UFC debut.
The former Strikeforce champion never got his offense going on Saturday, encountering a spinning heel kick that sent him to the canvas. After such a deflating loss, it might be best for Rockhold to take a fight with an opponent outside of the top 10.
Alan Belcher is also headed in the wrong direction after losses to Yushin Okami and Michael Bisping. A fight between Rockhold and Belcher would ensure one promising young middleweight gets back on the track toward title contention.
Vitor Belfort vs. Anderson Silva-Chris Weidman Winner
Belfort may have suffered a brutal knockout loss to Anderson Silva two years ago, but he's already solidified himself as the most deserving challenger to the winner of an upcoming title fight between Silva and Chris Weidman.
Bisping and Rockhold, Belfort's past two opponents, were likely to earn title shots had they beaten the Brazilian. However, after denying both of those rising contenders, it is Belfort who now stands above the rest of the contenders in the middleweight division.
Unless a superfight or immediate rematch between Silva and Weidman is put together for the end of 2013, Belfort should find himself competing for a UFC belt in a third straight calender year.