Last night's UFC on FX 8 card was kind of odd. The event delivered a lot more action than most expected, but none of the fights outside of the main event offered much relevance. That makes posts like this a little harder than you'd think, because I'm basically stuck with listing the actual winners and actual losers and providing a little context. I'll switch it up a bit (sorry Sapo), but don't blame me if this post is a little paint-by-numbers. I'm just working with what I'm provided. Now that we have the "you're probably going to be disappointed" warning out of the way, let's get on with it (assuming anyone is actually still reading).
Vitor Belfort - It's hard to imagine how the night could have gone any better for The Phenom. He didn't just beat Rockhold early, he did it in spectacular fashion. The last time I remember a main event ending in such brutal fashion, Belfort was on the other end of a crazy kick. But Vitor has now cemented his claim on a future middleweight title shot, and proven that he's still an elite fighter after 17 years in the cage. I'm not putting a TRT asterisk next to this like some will - that was simply one of the most beautiful finishes I've ever seen. I hope it's remembered as such, without all the extra baggage.
Ronaldo Souza - Jacare was expected to walk through Camozzi, and he did just that. But he made a great first impression to UFC fans nonetheless. Souza has it all - ridiculous grappling skills, solid striking and wrestling, and a lot of charisma to boot. I'm an unabashed fan of Jacare and have been for a long time, and I think it's great that he's finally going to get the respect he deserves. Next up is likely a big-name opponent, and I can't wait.
Nik Lentz - Even if he got worked in the final round, the win over Dias might be the most important of his career to date. He just derailed a top prospect and moved to 3-0 at 145. It's pretty hard to deny him a top-ten fighter now. Even if his style isn't exactly crowd-pleasing, he's proving that he's a handful for anyone at featherweight.
Francisco Trinaldo - Submitting someone with an arm triangle from half guard? How can you not be impressed with that? Many fans are still sleeping on Massaranduba and that's a shame. He's 3-1 in the UFC with three finishes, and his single loss was to the only guy at lightweight that's bigger than him, Gleison Tibau. I hope Trinaldo gets a step up in competition next. He has earned it.
Lucas Martins - Was his win over Jeremy Larsen full of technical brilliance? Nope. But you have to respect a guy that comes out in the final round when he knows he's down on the cards and is determined to get that finish. And it only took 13 seconds. Yes, Larsen walked into that punch. But it was still pretty devastating. He certainly captured my attention with that fight, and I look forward to seeing him fight again. As a fighter that's stuck on Facebook, that's about the best thing you can ask for.
Luke Rockhold - I respect the hell of out Rockhold for a few reasons. One was his chin - how that kick didn't knock him out right away is beyond me. Another was his choice to stick around for a post-fight interview, and giving Belfort his props. But there's no denying that the loss was a huge setback for the ex-Strikeforce champ. He'll have to prove he belongs in the top 10 in the UFC, and there are a lot of tough fights out there for him. I personally believe that he can hang with the best, but he just missed out on his chance to cut the line. It's going to take a while to get back there.
Evan Dunham - I was surprised at how many people had Dunham beating Dos Anjos so soundly. I thought it was really close and didn't have a problem with either guy winning. Either way, that L is huge. Dunham is now 3-4 in his last seven after starting his UFC career with four straight wins. Dana White believes he was robbed and the UFC isn't going to hold this against him, but it's pretty clear that he's not going to be gracing the UFC's rankings page anytime soon. That's not a good thing.
Rafael Natal - Yes, he won. But he looked pretty horrible in doing it. Zeferino gassed hard after the first round and he was basically a sitting duck. And what did Sapo do? A whole lot of nothing. He showed zero aggression until it was way too late. He's a talented, well-rounded fighter, but his lack of awareness in the cage is just unbelievable sometimes. That's the last time you'll see him on a main card for a while, and he has no one to blame but himself.
Hacran Dias - He came out fired up in the third and almost finished the fight. But where was that kind of fire in the first two rounds? He let Lentz control the tempo and turn it into his kind of fight. I know that Lentz does that a lot, but Dias most definitely has the skills to not let that happen. His striking was measured and tepid, and he let Lentz close the distance way too easily. Color me disappointed.
UFC on FX 8 referees - Events in Brazil always leave me steamed at the referees. Even non-Brazilian referees seem to stand up fights too quickly or bow to crowd reaction. The Jussier Formiga - Chris Cariaso fight was technically brilliant on the ground. Formiga would pass. Cariaso would somehow regain guard. They went back and forth and even though they weren't striking, they were ridiculously busy. So what happens? They get stood up. Back to the ground, same type of action, and another standup. Come on. Let fighters fight. Mario Yamasaki might have been the worst offender of all though. He took a point from Azamat Gashimov for one cage grab. Okay, fine. But when Hacran Dias did it about six times, Yamasaki just issued warnings. No point deduction. The inconsistency is so frustrating.