UFC on FX 8: "Belfort vs. Rockhold" goes down this Saturday night (May 18, 2013) from Arena Jaragua in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
An Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight bout headlines the event as the final 185-pound champion in Strikeforce history Luke Rockhold makes his organizational debut against hometown hero Vitor Belfort in a contest scheduled for five rounds.
Supporting the main event is another crucial bout in the middleweight division as Chris Camozzi looks to jump up the rankings when he welcomes former Strikeforce champion Ronaldo Souza to the Octagon.
With the two bouts listed above garnering a lot of attention from both fans and media, it's time to break down what --besides a paycheck-- a victory in Brazil on Saturday means for the four athletes carrying the UFC on FX 8 fight card
All the pressure in the UFC on FX 8 main event is directly on Vitor Belfort, which puts a microscope on the Brazilian's performance on Saturday.
"The Phenom" has worked extremely hard to get back near the top of the middleweight division after getting his face kicked in by Anderson Silva in Feb. 2011, and he cannot afford to lose his place to a UFC debutante in his home country.
After such an impressive body of work over the past few years that includes wins over Yoshihiro Akiyama, Anthony Johnson, Michael Bisping and a gutsy losing effort against Jon Jones, the 36-year-old cannot afford a setback now if he hopes on fighting for the middleweight belt again anytime soon.
To make things even worse, he is fighting an opponent in Luke Rockhold who is extremely talented, dangerous and well respected, but is more or less unknown by the casual fans of the UFC -- which means it would not look good if Belfort lost to him.
While earning a title shot is certainly possible, what a win means for Belfort at this point is holding his spot near the top of the division and keeping his win-streak in tact, which ultimately is the most important thing.
After years of fighting in rival organization Strikeforce, highly talented middleweight contender Luke Rockhold will finally make his UFC debut in Brazil, and in the main event no less.
Rockhold has fought and defeated several notable names in MMA competition and was also the final champion of the now-defunct Strikeforce organization. Fans know Rockhold is special talent, but are his skills elite enough to fight and defeat the very best of the best? That remains to be seen.
The 28-year-old will make his promotional debut against former UFC champion and longtime MMA veteran Vitor Belfort, a man who has competed against the best in the world for well over a decade and has one of the most violent highlight reels in the sport.
It's a big deal to fight a name like Belfort in his home country, which only raises the stakes for Rockhold. UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is the only fighter to have defeated Belfort at 185-pounds in nearly seven years, meaning Rockhold would join some elite company with a win and could possibly line himself up for a title shot.
Much like Luke Rockhold, jiu-jitsu ace turned MMA fighter Ronaldo Souza has been itching to get in the UFC for some time now after competing in other organizations around the world.
"Jacare," like Rockhold, was originally going to be thrown in the deep end against No. 6 ranked middleweight Constantinos Philippou; however, the Cyprus native was forced to withdraw from the card due to injury.
In what is without question a downgrade in quality of opposition, Souza will make his promotional debut against UFC mid-carder Chris Camozzi; an unranked fighter who filled in when Philippou did not receive medical clearance for the bout due to a cut sustained in training.
Unfortunately for Souza, the injury to Philippou placed him in a lose-lose situation.
If he comes in and obliterates Camozzi, that is what was expected against an inferior opponent who took the fight on just a few weeks notice. If he loses, then people are seriously going to question if the former Strikeforce champion is a UFC caliber fighter.
There was so much upside to the Philippou match up due to the fact he is ranked in the top-10, but that is now gone. And while victory is even more crucial than before, a win for Souza means he keeps his name "in the mix" at 185 pounds and can look forward to facing a top-10 opponent like he was originally supposed to at UFC on FX 8.
One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity, and that's exactly the situation Chris Camozzi has found himself in against Ronaldo Souza.
When Constantinos Philippou was forced out of the event due to a facial laceration, Camozzi jumped at the opportunity to mix it up with a top-10 opponent in "Jacare."
Most are expecting Camozzi to get stomped as it is believed he is not on Souza's level, and while that is the likely outcome, Camozzi's eight fights of UFC experience may benefit him against a UFC newcomer that is fighting under pressure in his home country.
With a four-fight UFC win-streak currently under his belt, Camozzi deserves this chance to fight a top-10 opponent, and a win would definitely slide him into the official UFC rankings.
Even though he is an impressive 6-2 in the UFC, Camozzi's list of opponents doesn't stack up with the likes of "Jacare." Nevertheless, the 26-year-old has been presented with a huge opportunity and if he can make the best of it will be seeing a lot more elite opposition going forward.
What do you think a win means on Saturday for these four men? Let us know in the comments section below!
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FX 8 fight card, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FUEL TV-televised under card bouts at 6 p.m. ET and then main card action, which is slated to begin at 9 p.m. ET on FX channel.
For the entire UFC on FX 8 fight card and line up click here. To catch up on all the news and notes for this weekend's "Belfort vs. Rockhold" event hit up our comprehensive archive by clicking here.