UFC on FX 8: Vitor Belfort KOs Luke Rockhold
UFC on FX 8 was held in Brazil this week, and despite some less than exciting undercard bouts, there were intriguing matches, especially the headliner with Brazilian Vitor ‘The Phenom’ Belfort versus American Luke Rockhold.
Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Rockhold was taking a big bite in fighting Belfort in Brazil. Belfort has been at the top of various MMA heaps throughout his long career, dating back to 1996. Rockhold held a height and reach advantage, but with only 11 fights to date, those were the only cards he held over Belfort.
Rockhold looked lethargic to start, and even fell when he threw a kick. He was robotic compared with the quick-twitch, experienced Brazilian. Perhaps it was the jitters. But just as Rockhold loosened up and showed solid technique, Belfort hit him with a spinning heel kick right to the cheekbone, ending the fight in under three minutes.
Although Rockhold will not be considered Belfort’s toughest test even in this calendar year (Michael Bisping), it shows just how dangerous Vitor is. His only losses lately are to Anderson Silva and Jon Jones, the #1 and perhaps #2 pound-for-pound fighters in the world. His last loss prior to those was against Dan Henderson way back in 2006.
Not sure what keeps The Phenom ticking, but if he could bottle it he’d be a zillionaire.
Another former Strikeforce middleweight champion fared somewhat better in his debut even if it was against inferior competition. Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza beat Chris Comozzi with an arm in choke at 3:37 of the first round.
Kenny Florian put Souza’s applied grappling in the league with welterweight Damian Maia’s, which is saying something. Since moving to 170, Maia has been monstrous. He utterly controlled longtime standout wrestler Jon Fitch for three solid rounds, and finished Dong Hyun 'Stun Gun' Kim and Rick 'The Horror' Story in suffocating fashion.
Souza didn’t dominate to that degree till he sunk in the choke, but it was his first UFC fight and in front of his home country’s fans. Souza is a black belt in judo and BJJ, and according to Kenny Florian has won world grappling championships at every belt level, but fighting in the UFC is on another level.
Souza has the unique looks and temperament that combine with his formidable skills to make a very marketable product for the UFC. Carmozzi wasn’t a real test though. The UFC will need to be clever and should bring this fighter up slowly.
It’s been interesting watching Strikeforce fighters enter the UFC. In April, UFC 155 pound tough guy Jim Miller was finished by former Strikeforce fighter Pat Healy, before the athletic commission ruled no contest (NC) due to a banned substance (marijuana) found in Healy.
Former Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier recently beat upper echelon UFC fighter Frank Mir---no easy feat---but in unspectacular fashion. Fewer now believe that Cormier is the next champion at heavyweight or light heavyweight.
Some of PRIDE’s top fighters didn’t fare so well either upon entering the UFC. Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua lost his first UFC match against Forrest Griffin, and though Dan Henderson won his first UFC match after coming over, he lost the next two. There is an adrenaline dump when entering the big show. Rua and Henderson have gone on to do great things, and so too may Strikeforce fighters who come over.
Ronaldo Souza is certainly the one to watch.
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