Brazilians love their mixed martial arts and vicious knockouts. At UFC on FX 8, they got both.
The country largely recognized as the homeland of the sport has produced a passionate and educated fanbase who always turn out when fisticuffs are on the menu. The raucous crowd helps to create one of the most unique "fighting environments" in all of combat sports as they keep the energy levels high from the opening bout until the lights go out in the arena.
All the Brazilian MMA faithful want to see is beautiful violence, and they were treated to their fare share Saturday night in Jaragua do Sul.
The sport's most successful promotion made its first visit to Jaragua, Brazil, with a card anchored by a high-profile tilt between middleweight contenders Luke Rockhold and Brazilian superstar Vitor Belfort.
While the event was largely overlooked in the MMA community—save for the main event and co-main event between Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Chris Camozzi—this didn't stop the fighters on the bill from getting down to serious business inside the cage.
The action came fast and furious at Arena Jaragua. From the lightweight ruckus displayed between Lucas Martins and Jeremy Larsen in the opening bout to a blistering spinning heel-kick knockout scored by Vitor Belfort in the main event, UFC on FX 8 certainly had high points..
That being said, there were certainly a few awkward and unsavory moments to go along with all of the face-punching goodness from Saturday night.
Here is a look at the good, bad and strange from UFC on FX 8:
Belfort is an absolute wrecking ball. Over the past 16 years, "The Phenom" has proven to be one of the best fighters in mixed martial arts. But in 2013, the 36-year-old has elevated his game to become an a monster in the middleweight division.
The former light heavyweight champion kicked off the year by starching Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7 in January, then one-upped himself by scoring an early candidate for "Knockout of the Year" by flattening Luke Rockhold with a spinning back kick in the first round of their main event bout at UFC on FX 8.
The biggest question is what comes next for Belfort? With devastating wins over Bisping and Rockhold, another title shot should be in short order for the Brazilian knockout machine. Nevertheless, in his post-fight interview with Jon Anik, Belfort shrugged off the suggestion of him stepping in for another crack at UFC gold, which will leave a limited number of options for his next step.
With Belfort's hesitation to jump into the title picture, a great option for his next challenge could very well be the owner of the event's most impressive showing—Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza.
The Brazilian grappling machine once again proved he's an absolute nightmare when the action hits the canvas as he left surging middleweight Chris Camozzi sleeping on the cavnas. Certainly, there is some slack to be given for the Colorado native—having stepped up to take the fight on short notice—but from the onset of the fight, it was all Souza.
Once the submission ace pulled Camozzi into his world, the clock on the TUF alum's fate began to tick. After a bit of ground-and-pound, Souza locked in a fight-ending arm-triangle choke, and that left Camozzi unconscious.
The victory was certainly an impressive Octagon debut for the former Strikeforce champion, and his performance put the rest of the middleweight division on notice. In his post-fight interview with Anik during the FX broadcast, Souza asked for the winner of Belfort versus Rockhold, and that is a solid possibility.
In the featherweight division, Nik Lentz keeps on rolling. The scrappy, former NCAA Division I wrestler picked up his third consecutive victory since dropping down into the featherweight division. While "The Carny's" fighting style is never anything to come out of your chair for, there is no way to argue his effectiveness inside the cage.
At UFC on FX 8, the American Top Team fighter kept constant pressure on Hacran Dias and picked up the unanimous-decision victory. The win will definitely ensure Lentz's next outing will come against one of the featherweight division's best. And with the title race in the 145-pound weight class hotter than it's ever been, a possible matchup with Clay Guida or Chad Mendes would make sense.
Rounding out the category is Yuri Alcantara's performance. The 32-year-old Brazilian made short work of Iliarde Santos on the preliminary portion of the card and made his presence known in the bantamweight division. With the current lack of depth in the 135-pound weight class, it wouldn't come as a shock to see Alcantara's next outing come against a top-10 opponent.
The only major entry into this category for UFC on FX 8 was the judging on the bout between Evan Dunham and Rafael Dos Anjos. This was a back-and-forth, "Fight of the Night" worthy scrap between two lightweights on the rise, but when the action came to an end and went to the judges' cards, a decision which should have belonged to Dunham went to Dos Anjos.
The Brazilian had his moments throughout the affair, but the Xtreme Couture product landed the cleaner shots and kept the pressure applied. While "RDA" was getting the better of the exchanges in the early goings, over the final two rounds, it was Dunham whose punches were getting there first.
UFC President Dana White took to Twitter to share his disapproval of the judge's decision.
Dana White @danawhite
Dunham got ROBBED!!!!2013-5-19 02:06:32
With the loss, the 31-year-old Oregon native will lose substantial ground in the highly competitive lightweight division. Where Dunham was once on the verge of trading in his prospect card for a contender's badge, dropping two of his past three showings will put a top-10 ranking out of his immediate view.
Two other entries into this category are Roger Hollett's brutal low-blow against Fabio Maldonado and referee Mario Yamasaki's wavering authority in the bout between Hacran Dias and Nik Lentz.
"The Hulk's" effort to throw a spinning back kick came up remarkably short against the Brazilian which resulted in Hollett landing a mule-kick smash to Maldonado's delicate region. Whether it was an issue with flexibility or taking his eye of the target, missing a kick that poorly should keep Hollett from throwing anything that requires spinning for some time.
It wouldn't be a true mixed martial arts event if there were nothing to gripe about on the officiating side. While the rest of the card went off without a hitch, Yamaski telling Dias he was going to take a point if the Nova Uniao fighter grabbed the fence again—then proceeded to look on as Dias grabbed the fence several more times—was a solid example of an official waffling during a fight.
The referee is supposed to keep the action clean and make sure the fight takes place within the boundaries of the rules. Yamasaki had no problem taking control of the initial situation and has to stand up and take the point if the fighter he warned commits another infraction. It was simply a bad look for Yamasaki.
While the UFC's last event at UFC 159 provided enough strangeness to put this category on overload, UFC on FX 8 was relatively light on "the weird."
There was no demon voice to be heard.
There were no majority-draw inducing eye pokes.
In fact, for the most part, the action went down in smooth fashion in Brazil with the majority of fights running their course without incident. That being said, there were still a few things that happened outside the realm of normal, with the most notable being Gleison Tibau finishing his opponent.
The muscle-heavy American Top Team fighter has been a staple in the lightweight division for the past five years. But while he has proven knockout ability and a power submission game, the stocky Brazilian has a reputation for going the distance inside the Octagon.
That trend was bucked for the time being when Tibau submitted John Cholish via guillotine choke in the second round of their tilt at UFC on FX 8. The submission victory snaps a four-fight decision skid for the 29-year-old and puts Tibau back into the win column after coming out on the losing end of a split decision to Evan Dunham at UFC 156.
It is a well-known fact that the fight game is an unpredictable beast. And while there is little that be counted on time in and time out, putting on the master of the microphone Bruce Buffer is about as consistent as they come. Nevertheless, "The Buff" has been misfiring as of late, and the trend continued at UFC on FX 8.
In both the pre-fight and post-fight announcements, Buffer incorrectly called light heavyweight slugger Fabio Maldonado "Fabiano". The Twitterverse quickly pointed out Buffer's mistake, but in the longtime announcer's defense, "Fabio" is a shortened version of Fabiano.
Nevertheless, if the man wants to go by Fabio, then you have to call him Fabio, and it is possible the rigors of his book tour for "It's Time is taking its toll.
The incident comes in the aftermath of his botched call in the Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy fight at UFC 159. Following the Strikeforce veteran's impressive third-round submission victory, Buffer incorrectly announced Miller as the winner of the fight.
While the moment was certainly embarrassing and a rare "off" moment for Buffer, perhaps, it was his clairvoyance showing through as the victory would ultimately be taken away from Healy three weeks later following a failed drug test.
Whether Buffer's backslide will continue remains to be seen. But with his work ethic and mastery of the craft, it is a safe bet that the inventor of the Buffer 360 will be back to form in no time.