Belfort vs. Rockhold Fight Card: Post UFC on FX 8 Stock Report
UFC on FX 8 packed a punch, and a kick, for the fans. Thirteen fights emanated from Brazil with fighters bringing their best inside the cage in the hopes of picking up a victory.
Vitor Belfort stole the show with a shocking spinning back kick that landed flush on Luke Rockhold. The explosive middleweight finished up his business on the ground. The victory puts Belfort back in serious talk for title contention.
Plenty of other action happened across multiple divisions. Potential contenders emerged, and others faltered.
This is your post-UFC on FX 8 stock report.
Stock Up: Jussier Formiga
Jussier Formiga's UFC debut did not go as planned, but his second fight under the Zuffa banner did.
Formiga looked good against the well-rounded Chris Cariaso. He got a bit tired and nearly was caught in a submission in the third, but his submission savvy was able to keep him safe and escape.
The flyweight division is still thin, and a couple of impressive performances can shoot one up into title contention. Formiga's victory over Cariaso will put him in line for a big fight at 125 pounds.
The No. 5 flyweight in the world could find himself in a fight for title contention. His stock cannot rise much higher in the division. That's what everyone is aiming for. He's not too far off, and he is beginning to show his spectacular skills in the Octagon.
Stock Down: Flyweights
The flyweights are fun, and they delivered two great fights on Saturday. So, why is their stock down?
Because they were relegated to Facebook for no apparent reason.
Fabio Maldonado vs. Roger Hollett was put over them on the Fuel TV prelims, and we were subjected to Rafael Natal vs. Joao Zeferino on the main card. Neither fight looked good on paper, and neither fight delivered much action.
Meanwhile, the UFC was fine with placing top 10 flyweights on Facebook.
If the flyweights hope to gain steam, and potentially draw interest from casual fans, they need to be placed higher up on the cards. Until then, the flyweights will seem like an afterthought, and that's sad.
Stock Down: Fabio Maldonado
Fabio Maldonado still has a job for a couple of reasons. One, after showing a ton of heart against Glover Teixeira, the UFC probably felt like they owed him at least another fight. Two, he shows little interest in going to the ground.
However, the bottom line is that he is not a UFC-caliber fighter.
The fight against Roger Hollett was poor. I cannot imagine many found that fun to watch.
Maldonado won, and that will get him another fight in the UFC. Unfortunately, that means we have to suffer through another fight like this or see a better light heavyweight walk through him in a fight that isn't competitive.
Stock Up: Yuri Alcantara
Yuri Alcantara made a statement in his win over Iliarde Santos. He quickly emerged as a bantamweight to keep an eye on.
Alcantara looked phenomenal in his 2:31 of action.
The bantamweight division is wide open at this time. A few impressive performances can put Alcantara up in the upper echelon of the division, and UFC on FX 8 was a great start for him. If Alcantara can put together another fight like this, a lot more people will be talking about him.
How Alcantara performed is how most hope to. It is the picture-perfect example of a fighter whose stock is on the rise.
Stock Up: John Cholish
John Cholish lost to Gleison Tibau at UFC on FX 8. So, why is his stock up?
That is because Cholish retired the right way: on his terms.
Cholish announced via Twitter that win or lose, he was done with MMA. He has a successful career on Wall Street, and the Cornell grad does not need to take any more blows to the head.
He is a highly intelligent guy who got to compete at the sport's highest levels. That's enough for him. Now, he gets to be the baddest dude on Wall Street with no regrets. It's refreshing to see a fighter go out under his own terms and not after too much damage has been done.
Good luck to Cholish on all his future endeavors.
Stock Up: Nik Lentz
Nik Lentz came into UFC on FX 8 as the No. 10 ranked featherweight. He was 2-0 in the division and taking on a rising star in Hacran Dias.
Lentz put on a Nik Lentz-type performance. He ground on Dias and took control of the fight early.
The top of the featherweight division is filled with contender after contender, but Lentz is still making some noise on his own behalf. He may not be as dynamic a fighter as some of the other top featherweights, but what he does, he does well.
He breaks fighters' wills.
The victory will hopefully give Lentz a top-10 fight in the division for his next outing. We will get a good look at just where he stands if that's the case.
Stock Down: Rafael Natal
Rafael Natal vs. Joao Zeferino was not the ideal start to UFC on FX 8. It was drab.
Natal did what he had to do, and he got the win. However, he enthused no one to see him again on a main card. And he did nothing to show he is ready for a top middleweight.
He has now won two fights in a row in the middleweight division. It is hard to tell what is next for him, but it likely won't be a big fight after his performance. It simply wasn't exciting or promising.
Fights like this do not help fighters gain interest from fans. Hopefully, Natal returns with a more dynamic performance in his next outing, or else he could be a permanent preliminary fighter.
Stock Up: Jacare
Ronaldo Souza made a perfect UFC debut.
Jacare exceeded expectations, and introduced himself to the UFC fans in the best possible way.
Souza easily dispatched of Chris Camozzi with a first-round submission. He locked the arm-triangle up tight, and put him to sleep. He is fun to watch, and one of the best middleweights on the planet.
Entering the night, he was a much-talked-about Strikeforce import. He was a fighter who would fight top fighters, but not be in title contention. Following UFC on FX 8, Jacare is now being looked at as a potential title contender. He has moved from the back of the top 10 to the front of the pack.
That is how one raises his stock quickly in the UFC.
Stock Down: Referees & Judges
The referees and judges at UFC on FX 8 were not good. That's to put it bluntly.
I will give the judges a pass for the most part as they only had one poor decision on the night, but I'm not letting them off the hook entirely.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham was a close fight. Dunham did enough to earn the victory, but the judges saw it for Dos Anjos. They need to get better at their craft and judge appropriately. I won't go as far as to call it a robbery, but it was the wrong decision.
As for referees, the night was filled with poor stand-ups.
Jussier Formiga was stood up while working on the mat consistently, and he wasn't the only one. Kevin Mulhall and Leon Roberts were the two main culprits last night. Mulhall was once one of the better referees, but he's having a bad 2013. Lets hope things turn around for UFC 160.
Stock Up: Vitor Belfort
Vitor Belfort entered as the No. 2-ranked middleweight in the world, and yet his stock still rose.
Belfort found a way to surprise us all again.
We have come to expect explosive finishes from the Brazilian. Typically, however, they come with a flurry of punches. In early 2013, he showed off his head-kicking skills by dropping Michael Bisping. At UFC on FX 8, he showed us his spinning back-kick skills.
It came out of nowhere, and it landed flush. It was spectacular.
Belfort should be eyeing another title shot soon, but time will tell if he is forced into another top contender's bout beforehand. Belfort's dynamic striking performance adds more to his MMA legacy.