The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) held an event in Brazil for the second time in 2013 on Saturday night (May 18, 2013) as UFC on FX 8: "Belfort vs. Rockhold" went down from Arena Jaragua in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Vitor Belfort successfully defeated Luke Rockhold in the main event with one of the most incredible head kick knockouts in UFC history (watch it here) to push his record in his home country of Brazil to 4-0 as well as re-solidifying his place as one of the top contenders in the middleweight division.
In a sport like mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows.
Every competitor who steps foot in the cage is looking for that moment of glory. Some capture it, others don't.
There were several shining stars on the UFC on FX 8 fight card as well as an equal amount of disappointments. With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in Brazil.
The Biggest Winner
Vitor Belfort played spoiler to Luke Rockhold's UFC debut in devastating fashion by derailing the former Strikeforce champion's title hopes with an incredible first-round spinning heel kick knockout.
With a resume that is already filled with highlight reel knockouts, the finish of Rockhold may not only be the best of Belfort's career, but in all of UFC history.
The ability to not just throw --but also land-- such a risky maneuver against a high-level opponent such as Rockhold is a true representation of Belfort's confidence in his skill set and shows how far he has come from the fighter who was once criticized for being gun-shy when the spotlight was on him.
The sensational finish made Belfort the first fighter in UFC history to win two consecutive bouts by head kick knockout, which only adds to the already Hall-of-Fame worthy legacy the 36-year-old has going for him.
Speaking of his age, the fact "The Phenom" is continuously capable of not only hanging with elite opposition, but completely outclassing them, is an incredible feat after all his years in the sport -- testosterone-replacement-therapy (TRT) or not.
According to the official UFC rankings, Belfort is the No. 2 contender in the middleweight division behind Chris Weidman, who challenges champion Anderson Silva for the title at UFC 162 in July. A normal win at UFC on FX 8 would likely have been enough for Belfort to stake his claim at the winner of that match up; however, the nature of his knockout in Brazil left no doubt in anyone's mind that Belfort should be the next challenger to the 185-pound title.
Ronaldo Souza quickly dispatched of Chris Camozzi in the co-main event with a first-round submission, sending a message to the middleweight division.
Souza's UFC debut was a long time coming and he didn't appear to suffer from the Octagon jitters in the slightest as he took Camozzi to the ground in the first 90 seconds of the bout and began to work his magic.
It wasn't long before "Jacare" had Camozzi great danger and from there it was just a matter of time until the finish.
The Brazilian dominated ground position and proceeded to lock in an arm-triangle choked that quickly put Camozzi to sleep at the 3:37 mark of round one.
The former Strikeforce middleweight champion was a large favorite going into the fight, which can fluster a lot of fighters. Souza showed no signs of distress, though, as he handily won the fight and reminded everyone why he is a name to take note of in the middleweight division.
It's unfortunate that Constantinos Philippou had to withdraw from the event due to injury because it would have been very interesting to see what Souza could have done against a top-10 opponent. Luckily for the 33-year-old, his performance was more than enough to earn a shot against an elite competitor in his sophomore UFC appearance.
The Biggest Loser
Luke Rockhold was hoping to follow in the footsteps of the other former Strikeforce champions by delivering a strong showing in his UFC debut -- instead he left Arena Jaragua as the recipient of one of the most memorable head kick knockouts in UFC history.
To Rockhold's credit, he had the deck stacked against him fighting a "rejuvenated" Belfort on his home turf, but unfortunately that isn't enough to dismiss the fact he consistently left his hands down, was tentative with his offensive attacks and was ultimately knocked silly.
Rockhold possibly suffered from the dreaded "Octagon jitters" once he stepped in the cage, and while that would be understandable, the 28-year-old absolutely did not make the kind of first impression the he wanted to in the most significant fight of his career on the biggest stage in the sport.
With a UFC title shot within his grasps going into the event, Rockhold suffered a major setback in his UFC debut and it's going to take a lot of work to erase the memory of this defeat from the minds of fans who may have been watching him for the first time.
The UFC brass blew it big time and gets a major thumbs down for placing Rafael Natal vs. Joao Zeferino on the main card instead of a match up between top-10 flyweight competitors Jussier Formiga and Chris Cariaso.
Prior to the event, the placement of Natal vs. Zeferino on the FX portion of the card was confusing to most, and after seeing how the fight played out the decision to put the middleweight contest on the main card is even more inexcusable.
The opening fight of the main card is supposed to set the tone for the evening, but Natal and Zeferino did the complete opposite as the two Brazilians sucked the life out fans in attendance at Arena Jaragua as well as those watching at home.
Fortunately the rest of the main card made up for it, but it's a shame the flyweight division isn't "getting much love" as Cariaso said going into the event, because on Saturday night the 125-pound fighters produced a much better fight that would have been significantly more entertaining for viewers tuning in.
Who were your biggest winner and loser from UFC on FX 8? Let us know in the comments in the comment section below.
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