I want to watch this event mainly to see the UFC debut former Strikeforce Champ Luke Rockhold and the man he won that belt from, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Both Rockhold and Jacare are considered top ten Middleweights and it will be very interesting to see how they fare against UFC competition tonight and going forward. So far, the Strikeforce fighters that were brought over to the UFC have performed very well and Rockhold and Jacare were two of the best fighters from that promotion, if not the two best. I expect both of them to do well in the UFC and I think it is possible that they will both challenge for the UFC Middleweight crown within the next few years.
Luke Rockhold (-115) vs Vitor Belfort (+105)
From what I have seen most Sports books are installing Rockhold as a very, very slight favorite for this fight, but the odds are essentially even. I think this fight is an extremely tough one to call and I wouldn’t want bet on it one way or another. If I had to pick I would take Rockhold, but the veteran Belfort is very capable of winning this fight in a variety of ways, with either his fists or his feet. Just ask Michael Bisping, Vitor’s last KO victim, who was leveled by a head kick that came out nowhere and then pummeled by punches that swiftly ended their fight at the 1:27 mark of the 2nd round. Belfort has had a long MMA career and previously has fought in the Heavyweight class and Light Heavyweight class. He has pretty much seen it all and done it all and has a record of 22-10. His only losses since 2006 have come to Anderson Silva and Jon Jones, both current Champs.
Rockhold, the last Strikeforce Middleweight Champ, also possesses a multi-faceted MMA game. His MMA record is 10-1. He a very good wrestler and is a former IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Champion. Rockhold has also become a fairly good striker and trains at the highly respected American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, CA. AKA is also home to the current UFC Heavyweight Champ, Cain Velasquez, as well as Daniel Cormier, Jon Fitch, Gray Maynard and Josh Thomson, among others. I think AKA has probably prepared Rockhold very well for this fight.
I think Rockhold, who is right in his prime at 28 years of age, has the skills to avoid a submission or KO and may outlast the 36 year old Belfort. This fight is in Belfort’s native Brazil and if Rockhold can go in there and secure a victory over Belfort in a hostile environment it will be a defining moment for him and may lead him a fight with with another legend, current UFC Middleweight Champ Anderson Silva.
Rockhold wins by decision.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (-570) vs Chris Camozzi (+480)
Jacare is also from Brazil and he will no doubt want to put on a good show for the home crowd. The 33 yr old Jacare has been a grappler and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner for well over a decade. He is a 5 time World Jiu-Jitsu Champ and holds a professional MMA record of 17-3-1. 13 of his victories were by submission, but he has now developed dangerous striking skills as well, so he is indeed a very well rounded MMA fighter.
I haven’t seen much of Camozzi, but he seems to be well regarded by the MMA media. He took this fight on short notice as a substitute for the injured Constantinos Philippou. Probably a smart move on his part, because he is not expected to win, but if he does pull off the upset it will be a huge boost to his career. Even if he challenges Souza and gives him a good fight it will probably raise his standing in the UFC. Camozzi is very big 185’er at 6’3″, has a record of 19-5 and is on a 5 fight win streak in the UFC. However, he has never faced anyone nearly as good as Souza. To be honest, I’ll be shocked if Jacare loses this fight.
Jacare wins by submission, 2nd Round.