COMMENTARY | The UFC dealt with its share of adversity in 2012, but it was still another successful year for the premier MMA organization in the world. They'll start off 2013 with the "UFC on FX 7" fight card set for Jan. 19, at the Ibirapuera Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Here are my UFC on FX 7 predictions:
Michael Bisping vs. Vitor BelfortBisping will get the next crack at UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, if he emerges victorious against Belfort, but he'll have his work cut out for him. Bisping's cardio and striking technique is exceptional, and it seems like a relatively easy matchup for the Brit on paper.
However, I think the five-round format and fact they'll fight in Brazil will affect the outcome of their UFC on FX 7 encounter.
Belfort is a heavy-handed puncher, and he showed a lot of heart during his last outing against UFC light-heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.
The Brazilian might end up losing a few rounds on the scorecards, but I can't see Bisping finishing him off. That gives Vitor 25 minutes to land a big shot and put "The Count" to sleep.
Prediction: Belfort wins via KO.
C.B. Dollaway vs. Daniel SarafianSarafian made it all the way to the finale of "The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil," but an injury robbed him of the opportunity to become the first middleweight champion of the Brazilian version of the series.
Dollaway has been inconsistent lately; losing two of his last three fights (his unanimous decision victory against Jason Miller wasn't impressive either). Dollaway's best bet would be to grind Sarafian against the cage and on the ground at UFC on FX 7, but that won't be an easy task. Sarafian is a well-rounded fighter with serious submission skills, and he's also a very strong middleweight.
Tough fight to call, but C.B. should be able to control Sarafian with his wrestling if he brings his A-game.
Prediction: Dollaway wins via decision.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ben RothwellBoth men have lost three of their last six fights heading into UFC on FX 7. Gonzaga will have the advantage on the ground, while Rothwell should get the better of the striking exchanges.
Rothwell is a heavy-handed guy, and he isn't the easiest guy in the world to put on his back either. Gonzaga's chin has failed him multiple times in the past, and there's a decent chance his chin will fail him again against Rothwell, who has secured 18 of his 32 victories as a professional MMA fighter via KO.
Prediction: Rothwell wins via KO.
Thiago Tavares vs. Khabib NurmagomedovKhabib is one of the most-promising young fighters in the UFC right now, and he'll be in for a serious test against Tavares -- who was also one of the most promising rising stars in the lightweight division once upon a time.
However, Khabib proved he was ready for the likes of Tavares with his unanimous decision victory against Gleison Tibau at UFC 148, and I expect the undefeated Russian to add another impressive victory to his 18-0 record.
Prediction: Nurmagomedov wins via decision.
Godofredo Castro defeats Milton Vieira
Andrew Craig defeats Ronny Markes
Diego Nunes defeats Nik Lentz
Edson Barboza defeats Lucas Martins
Wagner Prado defeats Ildemar Alcantara
Iuri Alcantara defeats Pedro Nobre
Francisco Trinaldo defeats C.J. Keith
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