UFC on FX 7: Post-Fight Stock Report
The UFC’s first event of 2013 is officially in the books, and while the event didn’t travel great lengths to outline too many new contenders, fans did witness one highly touted middleweight knocked from an extravagant self-made pedestal.
While preliminary action saw quite a few dynamic exchanges and explosive finishes, the true magic could be found on the FX broadcast, where eight fighters put forth valiant attempts at moving forward within their divisions.
With just one of four main-card fights finding its outcome in the hands of the judges, there were fireworks to be found. However, while some rose to the occasion, some definitely stumbled and some found themselves trapped in a showcase of mediocrity.
Regardless of outcomes, for another free event, UFC on FX 7 yielded big cheers from this household, and should unquestionably be considered a success.
Vitor Belfort: Rising
Belfort has become somewhat of an anomaly. The man burst onto the scene in October 1996 and looked like he’d be a world-beater for years to come. One year later, Randy Couture had extinguished the young star's flame.
The next six years would prove rewarding for Belfort, who amassed a 8-3 record in that stretch before hitting a career low in 2004. Between 2004 and 2006, Belfort would win just three bouts, while dropping five, three in succession.
Since then, Belfort’s realized a resurgence. He’s once more emerged as a dedicated athlete capable of competing with the world’s elite.
Since returning to the UFC for a third time in 2009, “The Phenom” has picked up four wins against two defeats, both of which were dealt at the hands of top-ranked champions, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones.
Last night was a chance for Belfort to put his name back in the title mix at 185 pounds, and he didn’t squander the opportunity.
The first round of Belfort vs. Bisping saw two lightning-fast strikers attempt to feel one another out while avoiding plodding directly into a fight-finishing bomb. Round 2 was a completely different story.
After turning the heat up on “The Count,” Belfort found his range early in Round 2. Although Vitor’s hands weren’t the blurring wonder fans have come to expect, his striking was well-timed and powerful. The Brazilian launched a left high-kick that caught Bisping flush on the temple, and the outspoken Brit crashed to the canvas.
Vitor swarmed his fallen foe, who offered nothing intelligent in the way of defense, prompting intervention from referee Dan Miragliotta.
Belfort hit a snag last year when challenging 205-pound champion Jon Jones, but UFC on FX 7 ensured his stock is still rising, despite the 2012 setback.
Michael Bisping: Falling
Nobody needed a win last night quite like Michael Bisping.
The nine-year veteran entered the cage at UFC on FX 7 with two goals: topple a current, relevant title contender (or “Top 10 ranked” foe) and earn what he believed to be a long-overdue title fight with the living legend, Anderson Silva.
He failed on both fronts, miserably. But hey, at least he remained respectful and altruistic in the face of defeat.
Losing a hard-fought five-round decision would have looked significantly less glaring for Bisping, who’s had his ability to absorb punishment called into question since his UFC 100 knockout loss to Dan Henderson. But Bisping didn’t make five rounds at UFC on FX 7; he didn’t even make a full two.
Bisping’s durability once again comes into question in the minds of many. It seems whenever Michael eats a flush shot, it’s all fall and sprawl. He couldn’t stand up to Henderson’s power, he was dropped by the wild hooks of Wanderlei Silva, and now he’s been floored by Vitor Belfort.
His career suddenly looks to be mirroring his body during difficult outings: the stock is falling for this one.
C.B. Dollaway: Holding
It’s difficult to take much away from last night’s other featured middleweight bout. Two TUF alumni met to determine the superior man, as The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 runner-up C.B. Dollaway welcomed TUF: Brazil cast member, Daniel Sarafian to the octagon.
Dollaway, who’s been a hot/cold fighter since his days featured fighting on Spike, escaped this encounter with a victory, but it wasn't overwhelmingly convincing.
The performance of “The Doberman" failed to reach the echelons of greatness, as he once again looked like a fighter struggling to find a grip on consistent success.
Sarafian pushed Dollaway early, giving his American foe everything he could handle.
Dollaway’s stock doesn’t fall, thanks to his ability to survive some ugly shots, and his determination to work just hard enough for the win.
However, his stock doesn’t rise either: a newcomer who was outmatched in regards to experience and physical tools pushed the man to the brink of defeat.
Daniel Sarafian: Rising Slightly
Interestingly enough, despite dropping his first official fight inside the octagon, and doing so to what many would label “mid-tier” talent in Dollaway, Daniel Sarafian’s stock rose last night, just a few thick hairs.
This kid now has 10 official fights under his belt. He’d never competed for a promotion as large and successful as the UFC, and he turned in a spirited, near fight-winning performance.
To top it off, he did so against a guy who’s already had nearly twice as many fights (17) and 11 UFC appearances.
Sarafian could have easily been led to slaughter last night, but he proved he’s got a home inside the UFC’s octagon. There’s no sign of his ceiling yet, but if Daniel can give a four-plus year veteran of the UFC with a winning record just about everything he can possibly handle, things look bright. Defeat be damned.
Gabriel Gonzaga: Quietly Rising
I don’t think anyone is prepared to hurl Gonzaga’s name back into title contention discussions, but he’s successfully working to reestablish himself as a feared heavyweight.
Riding high from a stunning upset victory over Mirko Cro Cop in 2007, Gabriel emerged as the division’s No.1 contender. Three years later he’d come up short in a title bid against Randy Couture and put together a depressing 3-5 record in the octagon.
After a brief exile from the promotion, “Napao” has returned, quietly rattling off a pair of UFC victories over Ednaldo Oliveira and Ben Rothwell.
Gonzaga isn’t ready for top more top 10 opposition just yet, but he’s close, and his stock is obviously on the quiet rise.
Ben Rothwell: Falling
Ben Rothwell is running out of chances.
With his promotional fight record sitting at 2-3, Ben needs to pull a trick from his sleeve, and soon.
He’s looked to be in tremendous physical shape for his last few trips to the octagon, but the time in the gym isn’t necessarily producing ideal in-cage results.
He appeared uncertain of himself last night, often a bit hesitant to exchange with Gonzaga, and it cost him big time. “Big” Ben Rothwell probably should have looked to impose his will quite early, but it wasn’t in the cards for the former IFL standout.
Too much waiting, not enough bullying, Ben’s stock hasn’t looked to alluring since his UFC arrival, and unfortunately, its value took another beating last night.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: Skyrocketing
If there was a standout performer last night, it was the unbeaten Russian, Khabib Nurmagomedov, no question.
Sporting a gaudy 19-0 record, this kid looks to be the real deal in every sense of the term. You can claim his record is padded, you can’t claim he’s been handed the easiest entry-level road inside the octagon.
The 24-year-old prospect has now put together three straight victories inside the UFC, and all three have been respectable wins.
Kamal Shalorus was stopped at UFC on FX - Guillard vs. Miller, Gleison Tibau was out-worked at UFC 148 - Silva vs. Sonnen 2, and last night Thiago Tavares was turned into a piece of highlight reel footage.
Khabib blasted the Brazilian with a huge punch before pouncing on his fallen foe to deliver enough elbows to leave life loopy for Thiago.
The Nurmagomedov vs. Tavares fight lasted less than two minutes last night. Thiago was in control at no point, and Nurmagomedov finished in vicious fashion while in hostile territory.
As Joe Rogan would say, that dude is for real!
Thiago Tavares: Falling
The momentum that Tavares had built after taking Spencer Fisher apart at UFC 134, and subsequently out-working Fisher’s rival, Sam Stout at UFC 142, has come to a screeching halt.
Once branded a prospect to examine, Tavares has looked nothing more than capricious inside the octagon. In 13 UFC fights, he’s never pieced together a winning streak longer than two fights.
That’s not exactly reliable.
Thiago had his opportunity to fully reinvent himself last night with his first three-fight win streak, but Nurmagomedov was physically too much for the 10-year veteran. Tavares looked perplexed by the Russian, and now fans are left perplexed by the sudden plummet of the man’s fighting stock.
The lightweight division is a cluttered realm. You’ve got to be able to swim with the sharks if you hope to survive in those waters. Right now, Tavares looks like he could benefit from a life preserver.
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