There's a middleweight main event tomorrow night in Sao Paulo with huge title implications on the line. Will Michael Bisping clear his final hurdle en route to a future "Spider" fight by leaping over Vitor Belfort in the UFC on FX 7 main event? Find out below.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is all set to make its return to Brazil tomorrow night with UFC on FX 7: "Belfort vs. Bisping," which emanates LIVE from Ginasio Estadual Geraldo Jose de Almeida in Sao Paulo on Jan. 19, 2013.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC on FX 7 main card action below, which is slated to start promptly at 9 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates will begin to flow earlier than that around 5:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FUEL TV.
I could spend a few minutes talking about all four main card match ups, but let's just cut the bull. You're here because you want Vitor Belfort to get schooled in front of a hometown crowd before fading away into the hall of washed up legends.
Well, at least half of you do.
The other half want to see Michael Bisping get his head airmailed back to Great Britain in a knockout reminiscent of his near-death experience at the hands of Dan Henderson way back at UFC 100, effectively eliminating any and all title talk for the foreseeable future.
As always, there's a legitimate argument on both sides of the debate.
Nostradumbass predicts: Here's an easy prediction: Vitor Belfort will come charging out of the gate trying to kill Bisping in the fist two minutes. Can he do it? I don't believe he can, though expect to see Bisping on his bicycle and the crowd "ooh" and "ahh" when a couple of Brazilian bombs get through.
Then it's time to go to work.
Belfort has enjoyed a good -- but not great -- career. Yet somehow he still carries this mystique when you talk to some of the fans. "Bro ... da Phenom is in da howse!" What exactly am I getting excited about? Think about it for a second, the biggest win of his career is a TKO victory over Rich Franklin back in 2009.
Ironically, the same argument can be made for Michael Bisping, who also comes up short in the big spot. Just as Belfort gets too much credit for his wins, "The Count" gets too much heat for his losses. Okay, so he got knocked out by Dan Henderson.
You can argue that he's a choker, but getting dumped and humped by Chael Sonnen (in a fight he almost won) is a poor instrument for testing his mental preparedness. This is that fight, and one I believe he wins through a well-rounded combination of technical striking, relentless wrestling and tip-top cardio.
Especially the cardio.
Belfort, while slower at 35 then he was at 25, still has fast hands. But the only thing speed will kill at UFC on FX 7 is the Brazilian's conditioning.
Final prediction: Bisping def. Belfort via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: After getting creamed in consecutive fights by Mark Munoz and Jared Hamman as part of the UFC on Versus series, C.B. Dollaway was able to get himself back into the win column by taking a convincing decision over Jason Miller at UFC 146 last May.
Normally, this would be something to talk about, except this was the same "Mayhem" that was beating up his sister, going to church naked and telling UFC President Dana White to go kill himself, so I'm reserving judgment for the time being.
Not that I've been impressed with anything "The Doberman" has been able to do up until this point in his career anyway, getting finished in all four of his UFC losses.
His striking is average, at best, and while he's a competent grappler, I'm not sure the ground is the place you want to be against Sarafian. The disadvantage for the Brazilian is his layoff, thanks to injuries that booted him from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) finale at UFC 147 last June.
And cleaning house on the Brazilian regional circuit is not the same thing as mixing it up inside the Octagon.
The loss to Gary Padilla back in Bellator still bugs me but to be fair, it was over three years ago and he's looked fairly sharp since then. I just don't believe that Dolloway is talented enough to exploit Sarafian's weaknesses coming into this fight and an over-aggressive takedown will likely result in him tapping.
Final prediction: Sarafian def. Dollaway via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: Be afraid, Maniacs. Be very afraid. What we have here is the blueprint for a hideous affair, as two big, plodding heavyweight hurters will run out of gas after the first round, only to huff-and-puff their way to the scorecards.
What a shame.
Gonzaga happens to be an outstanding grappler. But since graduating from the Jorge Gurgel school of gameplanning, "Napao" has opted to "stand and bang," ya' know, for the fans. Yes, I'm aware that he subbed Ednaldo Oliveira in his UFC return, but it was the Octagon debut for "Lula Molusco" and he hasn't been seen or heard from since.
I'm looking at the "Big" picture.
Ben Rothwell turned in a stinker against Mark Hunt at UFC 135, where he damn near got the bends because he came up for oxygen too fast. He claims to have turned over a new leaf with his diet and exercise and points to his 70-second knockout over Brendan Schaub at UFC 145.
It's a little early to celebrate.
Having a gorilla like Gonzaga sprawled across your gut or smashing into you against the cage will suck the life out of any fighter and can we just go ahead and say it? These guys are now into their thirties. It's not a death sentence, but when you struggled with performance in your twenties, I can assure you it only gets harder.
Let's hope for a quick finish, which is possible. Combined, they have 42 finishes in 45 wins. But what gives first? Gonzaga's chin (five KO/TKO losses) or Rothwell's cardio?
Final prediction: Rothwell def. Gonzaga via split decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Is it wrong to root against a guy because you can't spell his name? Seriously, that kind of thing can be a major headache, as I remember the first few times I had to try to remember how to spell Krzysztof Soszynski.
Anyway, "The Eagle" is an exciting young prospect out of Mother Russia and I don't mean "exciting" as in I've been checking out his ass, I mean exciting as in he's steamrolled a majority of his competition to compile an impressive 18-0 record.
Followers of the Nostradumbass column (all three of you) will know I believe a resume padded with wins over regional "competition" like Said Akhmed (0-1), Ashot Shahinyan (0-4) and Kadzhik Abadzhyan (1-5) does little to prove your merit on the big stage.
And Kamal Shalorus can't buy a win in recent fights.
That leaves Gleison Tibau, a tough test for anyone at 155-pounds, but that fight raised more questions than it answered. The good news is, the talent of Thiago Tavares is betrayed by his inconsistency. After Shane Roller pasted him at UFC on Versus 3, he rebounded with back-to-back wins over Spencer Fisher at UFC 134 and Sam Stout and UFC 142.
Unfortunately, beating them was a big deal in 2007, not 2012.
While he will prove to be a tough nut to crack, the Brazilian doesn't have a distinct advantage anywhere in this fight. I expect him to be taken down and roughed up and he won't do enough damage when they are on the feet to convince the judges he was the better man on fight night.
Final prediction: Nurmagomedov def. Tavares via unanimous decision
That's a wrap, folks.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC on FX 7 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Belfort vs. Bisping."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow's event.