After every UFC event we here at Pro Fighting Fans love to play matchmaker. In this column we’ll tell you who we think the winners and losers of each fight should face next.  So check back with Pro Fighting Fans after a UFC event to see what we think the next step is.(Note: We apologize for the delay with this article)

Brad Pickett (25-11)

Who he should face next: Erik Perez (15-6)

Brad Pickett admitted that if had he lost to Francisco Rivera at UFC Fight Night 84 he would have retired. For the sake of this article we are going to assume that retirement is no longer an option and Pickett will in fact fight another day. The win snapped a three fight losing streak and it was his second fight after returning to the bantamweight division.

Pickett should stay in the bantamweight division. There is no need for him to be cutting a large amount of weight at this point in his career. He’s a great measuring stick for up and coming fighters and I think the UFC should put him against young guys looking to build a resume. One of those guys is none other than Erik Perez.

Perez’s two UFC losses came against Takeya Mizugaki and Bryan Caraway, so it’s obvious he’s not ready for the top of the division just yet. However a fight with Pickett would give him a challenge against a veteran with a good chin and great stand up ability. Of course at Pickett’s age it’s always nice to say you beat a young up and comer like Erik Perez.

 

Tom Breese (10-0)

Who he should face next: Sean Strickland (17-1)

Tom Breese came away from UFC Fight Night 84 with his perfect professional record still intact. He’s 3-0 since joining the UFC, but his victory over Keita Nakamura was far from being his most impressive and the UFC might want to keep pushing him along slowly before they give him a major step up in competition.

Sean Strickland is 4-1 since joining the UFC’s welterweight division in 2014. His only loss came against Santiago Ponzinibbio and he’s since won two straight. This would be an exciting matchup and the outcome would prove which one of these guys is ready for that big step up in competition.

 

Gegard Mousasi (38-6-2)

Who he should face next: Derek Brunson (15-3)

Gegard Mousasi has been a tad inconsistent since finally joining the UFC in 2013. He has losses to fellow middleweights Lyotoa Machida, Ronaldo Souza and Uriah Hall. He’s still in the top ten of the middleweight division, but if he wants a title shot he needs to keep fighting the best of the best.

Derek Brunson is finally on the cusp of cracking the top ten, he still needs a signature win to put him on the map. A victory over a proven veteran like Gegard Mousasi would be incredible for his career. The UFC would just need to convince the often bored looking Mousasi that this is a fight that would be good for him.

 

Michael Bisping (28-7)

Who he should face next: Yoel Romero (11-1)

After Michael Bisping defeated Anderson Silva at UFC Fight Night 84, many people were calling for him to get a shot at the middleweight title. Sure he’s been around a long time but I think he needs to beat another top 185lb fighter before he gets the title shot that has eluded him for many years.

Yoel Romero thought he might get a title shot after he took out Ronaldo Souza at UFC 194. However, the UFC had other plans and granted former champion Chris Weidman a rematch with Luke Rockhold at UFC 199. Now Romero can either wait or take another fight. There has been so much controversy in Romero’s UFC career that I really think he needs a number 1 contender fight before he gets a title shot. Facing Michael Bisping would be a worth title eliminator and the winner would most definitely be the front runner for a middleweight title shot.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

After an excellent showing at last weekend’s UFC Fight Night 83, B.S. Predictions has an overall record of 11-5. This week we have another Fight Night installment and another opportunity to continue improving our record. Predicting these fights is just one reason why you should tune in Saturday afternoon, Anderson Silva is the other.

 

Brad Pickett (24-11) vs. Francisco Rivera (11-5)

This one is going to be a war, and the winner will be determined by who lands the big shot first. It’s not going the distance or to the ground, so what we’re left with is a one round stand up scrap. They are both coming off losses in fights where they had opportunities to win but ultimately fell short.

Pickett has lost 3 straight and Rivera has lost 3 of 4. Based on this and the fact that Pickett will be fighting at home, I see the Englishman landing the finishing blow early.

Prediction: Brad Pickett

 

Tom Breese (9-0) vs. Keita Nakamura (31-6)

Tom Breese is undefeated, fighting at home and training out of Tristar Gym in Montreal. He’s fighting someone with way more experience but the advantages end there for Keita Nakamura. Breese wins this one and makes it look easy.

Prediction: Tom Breese

 

Thales Leites (25-5) vs. Gegard Mousasi (37-6)

This will be a matchup of saavy veterans. For most of his career Leites was a BJJ type fighter, since he returned to the UFC he’s become a well-rounded fighter with a much improved striking game. Mousasi is capable of finishing a fight no matter where it goes.

I see this one going the distance and the busier fighter will get the nod. Seeing as Leites says he’s learned from the mistakes he made against Michael Bisping, I’m going with the underdog in this one.

Prediction: Thales Leites

 

Anderson Silva (33-6) vs. Michael Bisping (27-7)

I like the underdog in this fight too. Michael Bisping has wanted this matchup for a really long time and he’s never lost a professional fight in the U.K. As long as Bisping can keep busy and push the pace he should be able to keep Silva from moving forwards.

Silva is definitely near the end of his legendary career but regardless of that he’s not getting easy fights. Unless he can create some distance and get a crazy knockout I really believe Michael Bisping has his number today.

Prediction: Michael Bisping

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

 

 

You’ll have to forgive me as I attempt to comprehend the reasoning behind the Michael Bisping verses Vitor Belfort match up. I’m a little behind on this column so bare with me – I’m behind mainly due to my propensity to over analyze everything. As I sit in front of my overpriced MacBook Air, I do so baffled at the UFC’s attempt to formulate a number one contender within the middleweight division. I’m no Joe Silva but I’m starting to wonder if the UFC is losing sight of its own needs. Someone has to answer my questions and there’s only one person that will or can, me.

I’m going to ask three questions that keep revolving around in my mind regarding the UFC on FX 7 bout between middleweight contenders Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort. I’ll then attempt to answer the very questions I posed – which is not the best situation but the only one I have at the moment.

Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts, theories or general platitudes.

Why would you pair two fighters together and not reward either fighter with the same opportunity if victorious?

This question goes beyond the UFC on FX 7 match up and dives directly into the heart of the UFC’s matchmaking philosophy. Why would you pair two fighters together and not reward either fighter with the same opportunity if victorious?

By pairing fighters together who obtain the same opportunity if victorious the UFC could eliminate a growing concern regarding the sport’s integrity among fighters and fans alike.

Bottom line the UFC has done a terrible job of providing a frame work towards becoming a number one contender. UFC President Dana White likes to use the term “in the mix” but what that really means is “who we want will be next.” Case in point GSP vs. Nick Diaz. The UFC must do a better job at establishing a frame work for matchmaking and becoming a title contender.

Why did the UFC pair Michael Bisping with such a dangerous opponent in Vitor Belfort?

I’m still scratching my head over this one. Two opportunities were riding on this fight; a number one contenders spot and a chance to see Anderson Silva fight before the end of the year. One high kick saw both of those washed down the drain instantly. I’m not inferring Bisping should question his opponent choice nor blame anyone else for the loss except himself, but why fight Belfort?

Vitor’s coming off a submission loss to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 152 in September. Less than five months later he stands across the cage from Bisping who, if victorious, will get his first opportunity at UFC gold. As it just so happened Belfort beat Bisping at UFC on FX 7 with a TKO victory 2:27 into the second round. My thought now – Why was Vitor ever asked to be apart of this fight?

What will happen to the UFC middleweight division now?

A great question Scott (inner dialogue: thanks Scott, those are the only ones I have). What will the UFC do with the middleweight division and middleweight champion Anderson Silva? The division is in the same state as it was before the Bisping/Belfort fight, static.

It’s clear the UFC isn’t going to give Belfort a second go-around with Silva just yet. In all fairness, Belfort asked for Jones instead of Silva during his post-fight interview. Did Belfort truly believe his plea would be granted by Dana? It’s Chael P. Sonnen were talking about, the greatest showman in UFC history. For now the middleweight division will continue to act like a sifter eventually grinding out a contender with enough name recognition to warrant a second look by champion Anderson Silva.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: This could take a while.

By Scott Levesque (@scottlevesque)

ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

After waiting an extended period of time for a shot at Anderson Silva, middleweight contender Michael Bisping was knocked out of his place in the front of the line in terms of potential challengers for the UFC middleweight champion with a loss to Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7. Bisping was heavily favored in his bout against Belfort, but it was the veteran Brazilian who was able to earn a TKO victory that started with a head kick. Belfort isn’t guaranteed a shot at Silva, but with a lack of challengers, he could be a long-shot candidate to earn a title shot. Belfort earned a $50,000 bonus for “knockout of the night” with his win.

In the co-main event, middleweight CB Dolloway survived a tough fight against debuting Brazilian Daniel Sarafian to take home a split decision. For their fight, Dolloway and Sarafian took home the “fight of the night” bonus award. Also on the main card, Brazilian heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga choked out Ben Rothwell in the second round, and Khabib Nurmagomedov moved his unbeaten record to 19-0 with a TKO over veteran Thiago Tavares. Debuting Brazilian Ildemar Alcantara earned the “submission of the night” for his kneebar submission over Wagner Prado in the night’s opening bout.

Bellator gets a ‘spike’ in debut on new home

Bellator 85 marked the start of the organization’s eighth season, which was also the first on its new home at Spike TV – the former home of competitor UFC. Thanks in part to a lead-in from TNA Wrestling, the organization’s debut event more than tripled the previous record audience for a Bellator event with almost a million viewers. Both featherweight champion Pat Curran and lightweight champion Michael Chandler successfully defended their titles against tournament winners Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Rick Hawn, respectively, giving the organization a great jumpstart into what is likely to be its most successful season to date. Despite a razor-thin split decision between Curran and Pitbull, the organization won’t be able to set up an immediate rematch because of an already-backlogged featherweight division. Daniel Straus has already earned a title shot with his victory in the Season 6 tournament, and Shah Shamhalaev will battle Rad Martinez for the place in line behind Straus. Freire could be a favorite to re-enter an upcoming featherweight tournament for another shot at the title, though.

The light heavyweight tournament also kicked off, as Russian Mikhail Zayats upset UFC veteran Renato “Babalu” Sobral to earn a semifinal spot. Also, Californian Emanuel Newton made it to his second tournament semifinal with a submission over debuting Bulgarian Atanas Djambazov, and Tennessean Jacob Noe stopped veteran Seth Petruzelli with a TKO to earn the night’s third semifinal berth. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Pryzemslaw Mysiala will battle at Bellator 86 this week for the final spot in the semifinals.

Quick Hits

Former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi will take on Alexander Gustafsson in his UFC debut at UFC on FX 9 on April 6 in Sweden…Top Canadian organization MFC will debut its 135-pound bantamweight class beginning with its May show…Big-show veterans James Krause and Brock Larson earned decision victories at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 6 in Kansas City…A pair of Strikeforce champs will have their UFC debuts on FOX, as Gilbert Melendez will challenge Benson Henderson for the lightweight title at UFC on FOX 7 in April, and heavyweight Daniel Cormier will make his debut against former UFC champion Frank Mir.

Michael Bisping: Bridesmaid never a bride. That seems to be the reality for the 33 year-old Brit every time he fights in a title elimination bout. Come on you guys you know I’ve got the stats to back up my claim.

Bisping has fought Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen and now Vitor Belfort for the opportunity to square off against long standing middleweight champion Anderson Silva. I’ll let you guess how many times he’s come up with the “W.” That’s right you guessed it, zero.

This brings us to Saturday night and the UFC on FX 7 in Sao Paulo, Brazil where Vitor Belfort (22-10) defeated Michael Bisping (23-5) by second round TKO. Let’s review some of the action.

Both men started the fight tentative as the feeling out process between the two began early on. It was Bisping who pushed the fight early in the first round, connecting with sharp combinations while keeping Belfort off balance.

The momentum quickly shifted with 30 seconds left in the first round when Belfort connected with a high kick sending Bisping flailing across the mat. Belfort – as we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him – swarmed in for the finish. There was only one problem time was running thin and Bisping was able to survive the onslaught and make it out of the first round.

As they squared off in round two, Bisping appeared to recover nicely from the beating he took late in the first round. At the onset both men managed to find their range and began to trade punches back and forth. However at 1:20 of the second round Belfort caught Bisping with another well placed high kick – this time catching Bisping flush on the temple – which sent the Brit crashing to the mat. There was nothing the clock could do for Bisping as Belfort rushed in for the finish via technical knockout.

During the post-fight interview Belfort declined to challenge current middleweight champion Anderson Silva, instead opting for a rematch with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. With a muddled middleweight division Belfort’s challenge to Jones couldn’t have come at a worse time. Now the UFC must cryogenically freeze Silva. His refusal to fight contender Chris Weidman has left the UFC stuck between a rock and an Anderson Silva (which is not a place they want to be).

The lingering question coming out of UFC on FX 7 has nothing to do with anyone fighting in the event. The question moving forward is this: “What does the UFC do with Anderson Silva now?” Now that Bisping is out of the title picture, who’s in line for a shot at the champion? While UFC President Dana White has never broached the idea of a Silva/Belfort rematch, maybe it’s time to start thinking about it.

Silva’s unwillingness to fight “unknowns” for the title has left the UFC scrambling to make super-fights and number one contender bouts in search of an opponent for Silva. On Saturday night Vitor destroyed the UFC’s pick for a number one contender to face the middleweight champion. Perhaps the UFC “accidently” found the guy their looking for in Belfort, perhaps.

For Bisping it’s all the same as he watches, yet again, from cage side.

By Scott Levesque (@scottlevesque)

ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

After a nice build-up for the grudge match between middleweight contenders Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort, the first UFC event of 2013 is finally here. It will also test the theory of whether the organization can continue to put B cards in booming outlets and continue to grow a fan base. Brazil will get its first dose of what is sure to be a healthy helping of UFC events this year, as the organization has already promised at least two more before the calendar turns once again.

To build the base, the UFC will institute a tried and true method that help build its fan base in the U.S.: continue to build fighters who competed on The Ultimate Fighter by putting them on second-tier cards for free, hoping to build a few stars who will eventually compete for titles down the road. It’s like a built-in minor league for the organization, and it is only likely to increase in size before it decreases.

UFC on FX 7 takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil and will be shown on the FX Network in the U.S. with the main card beginning Saturday night at 9p.m. Check out our breakdown for each of the event’s fights below.

Wagner Prado vs. Ildemar Alcantara

After injuries forced his previously scheduled opponents out of his UFC on FX 7 preliminary card bout, Wagner Prado (8-1, NC) will now meet promotional rookie Ildemar Alcantara (17-5) in a light heavyweight clash.

Prado, 26, is a Brazil born mixed martial artist who fights out of Team Noguiera.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt made his professional debut in October of 2009 and won his first 9 bouts while touring the Brazilian regional circuit.  The 6’0” knockout artist made his way into the UFC in 2012 and suffered a no contest at UFC on Fox 4 this past August after being poked in the eye by his opponent Phil Davis.  The two 205-pounders rematched in October at UFC 153 with Davis finishing Prado this time via submission.

Alcantara is a Brazilian based mixed martial artist who fights out of the Frankiko Team.  The 6’1” light-heavyweight made his professional debut in June of 2005 and went 8-4 until joining the Jungle Fight roster in 2010.  Since joining Brazil’s top regional promotion, Alcantara has won 9 of his 10 bouts with only one of his wins during that span coming from decision.  Alcantara had an exceptional 2012 going 4-0 which included a December Jungle Fight 47 TKO victory over Itamar Rosa.

PREDICTION – PRADO TKO

Yuri Alcantara vs. Pedro Nobre

Yuri Alcantara (27-4) will welcome Pedro “The Rock” Nobre (14-1) into the octagon at UFC on FX 7 in a bantamweight bout positioned on the preliminary card portion of the event.

Alcantara, 32, is a Brazil based mixed martial artist who fights out of Pattaya Fight.  The 5’6” bantamweight made his professional debut in March of 2004 and won 24 of 27 while competing in his home country for multiple regional organizations.  After capturing a pair of titles in minor organizations, Alcantara was brought into the WEC 53 event and left with an impressive KO finish of Ricardo Lamas.  With the WEC transitioning into the UFC in 2011, Alcantara won his first two bouts in the octagon with wins over countryman Felipe Arantes and Japanese veteran Michihiro Omigawa.  He had his 13 fight winning streak snapped in his most recent fight at UFC 147 this past June losing via unanimous decision against Hacran Dias.

Nobre, 26, is a Brazil native who fights out of the Brazilian Top Team.  The 5’5” Nobre made his professional debut in March of 2009 and went unbeaten through his first 12 fights while fighting for several regional organizations across his native country.  After dropping his first career bout in September of 2012, “The Rock” rebounded to win his last two to finish 2012 with a 4-1-1 record.  Nobre has participated for Bitetti Combat over his last four fights.

PREDICTION – ALCANTARA DECISION

Francisco Trinaldo vs. CJ Keith

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil competitor Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo (11-2) fights CJ Keith (8-1) in a UFC on FX 7 preliminary card bout that will be contested at 155 pounds.

Trinaldo, 34, is a Brazil native who fights out of the Brazilian Top Team.  “Massaranduba” made his professional debut in May of 2006 and won his first six bouts while fighting in regional organizations across Brazil before losing against UFC veteran Yuri Alcantara in 2010.  After suffering his first defeat, Trinaldo won his next four bouts while fighting for Jungle Fight and earned a spot on the TUF Brazil cast.  While competing on TUF Brazil, Trinaldo won his elimination round bout to earn his way into the TUF house, but was defeated in his first round fight ending his chances to win the first season of TUF in Brazil.  He returned at UFC 147 and defeated fellow TUF Brazil fighter Delson Heleno while competing as a middleweight but was defeated at UFC 153 this past October in his lightweight debut.

Keith, 26, is a California based mixed martial artist who fights out of the Pro Buhawe team.  The 6’0” lightweight made his professional debut in 2007 and won his first eight bouts to begin his career while competing for California based organizations like Gladiators Challenge and The Warriors Cage.  After finishing five of his first eight opponents, Keith lost at UFC on FX 4 this past June via 1st round TKO against Ramsey Nijem.

PREDICTION – TRINALDO TKO

Edson Barboza vs. Lucas Martins

A lightweight bout featuring Edson Barboza (10-1) and Lucas Martins (12-0) will be positioned on the UFC on FX 7 preliminary card.

Barboza, 26, is a Brazil born mixed martial artist who fights out of The Armory in Florida.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt made his professional debut in 2009 and went on to win his first 6 bouts fighting in regional organizations like Ring of Combat and Renaissance MMA.  The UFC picked up Barboza in late 2010 and the 5’11” striker compiled four straight victories over Mike Lullo, Anthony Njokuani, Ross Pearson and Terry Etim before suffering a TKO defeat against Jaime Varner at UFC 146 in May.

Martins, 24, is a Brazilian based mixed martial artist who fights out of the legendary Chute Boxe team.  The 5’9” Martins made his professional debut in September of 2011 and has easily defeated his first 12 opponents while touring the regional circuit in his native country.  The hard hitting Martins has finished 11 of his 12 opponents which includes 8 TKO/KO finishes and 3 submissions.  Martins has won an impressive 10 bouts in 2012 including his most recent on December 13th at Jungle Fight 46 where he picked up a head kick KO victory over countryman Oberdan Vieira Tenorio.

PREDICTION – BARBOZA TKO

Diego Nunes vs. Nik Lentz

Both Diego Nunes (18-3) and Nik Lentz (22-5-2, NC) will try and collect their second straight win inside the octagon at UFC on FX 7 in a featherweight bout that is slotted for the preliminary card.

Nunes, 30, is a Brazil based mixed martial artist who now fights out of the Nova Uniao team.  A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Nunes made his professional debut in 2004 and posted a perfect 11-0 mark while fighting his early career in his native country’s regional scene.  The 5’6” Nunes signed with the WEC in 2010 and went 4-1 before migrating into the UFC a year later.  Victories over Mike Brown and Manny Gamburyan were followed by a loss to Denis Siver at UFC on Fuel TV 2 this past April.  Nunes bounced back in his most recent fight three months ago at UFC on FX 5 via unanimous decision against Bart Palaszewski.

Lentz, 28, is a Texas born mixed martial artist who now fights out of Minnesota with the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy.  A former NCAA Division I wrestler, Lentz made his professional MMA debut in 2005 and won 16 of his first 20 while fighting for multiple regional organizations across the Midwestern United States.  Lentz made the move into the UFC in 2010 and went unbeaten through his first six inside the octagon with victories over the likes of Tyson Griffin and Andre Winner.  Lentz suffered setbacks versus lightweights Mark Bocek and Evan Dunham before making the move down to 145 pounds.  In his featherweight debut this past August at UFC 150, Lentz picked up an impressive TKO stoppage victory over Eiji Mitsuoka.

PREDICTION – LENTZ DECISION

Ronny Markes vs. Andrew Craig

Rising middleweights Ronny Markes (13-1) and Andrew Craig (8-0) will meet in a UFC on FX 7 preliminary card bout.

Markes, 24, is a Brazil based mixed martial artist who fights out of the Nova Uniao team.  The 6’1” Markes made his professional debut in January 2007 and won his first seven before suffering his only career defeat in an October 2010 regional fight in his native Brazil.  After the loss, Markes rebounded to win his next four fights including an April 2011 bout over former WEC Champion Paulo Filho to secure a roster position in the UFC.  After joining the UFC in late 2011, Markes won his UFC on VS 5 debut with a unanimous decision victory over Karlos Vemola.  In his latest fight Markes picked up a split decision win against Aaron Simpson at this past February’s UFC on Fuel TV 2 event.

Craig, 26, is a Houston, Texas based mixed martial artist who fights out of Team Tooke.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt made his professional debut in May of 2010 and won his first six fights while fighting in regional promotions like Bellator and Legacy FC, where he held the company’s Middleweight belt before leaving this past year for the UFC.  In his UFC on FX 2 debut this past March; Craig won easily via unanimous decision over Kyle Noke.  He made his two for two inside the octagon at UFC on Fuel TV 4 this past July with a head kick KO victory over Rafael Natal.

PREDICTION – CRAIG TKO

Godofredo Castro vs. Milton Vieira

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil veterans Godofredo “Pepey” Castro (8-1) and Milton “Miltinho” Vieira (13-7-2) will meet in a UFC on FX 7 featherweight bout that is positioned for the preliminary card.

Castro, 25, is a Brazilian born mixed martial artist who fights out of the Marcio Cupim Team in Fortaleza.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt made his professional debut in December of 2003 and won his first three bouts spanning a four-year period.  He hit the MMA scene full-time in 2010 and won his next five before joining the TUF Brazil cast.  A member of Team Vitor and Team Wanderlei, “Pepey” advanced into the Featherweight Finals at UFC 147 but suffered a unanimous decision defeat this past June against Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra.

Vieira, 34, is a Brazilian based mixed martial artist who is trained by former UFC veteran Murilo Bustamante.  “Miltinho” made his professional debut in 2001 and won 13 of his first 21 by touring organizations in Russia (M-1 Mix Fight), Brazil (Bitetti Combat MMA), Japan (DEEP), and the United States (Strikeforce).  Viera joined the TUF Brazil fighters this past year, however was ousted early in the tournament.  He returned at UFC 147 and fought Felipe Arantes to a DRAW this past June.

PREDICTION – “PEPEY” SUBMISSION

Thiago Tavares vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Thiago Tavares (17-4-1) will attempt to win his third straight bout inside the octagon when he welcomes unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov (18-0) in a UFC on FX 7 lightweight bout that will be part of the events’ main card.

Tavares, 28, is a Brazilian born mixed martial artist who fights out of the Brazilian Top Team.  The 5’7” lightweight made his professional debut in November of 2003 and went 10-0 fighting in regional promotions across the United States, Brazil, England, and Holland.  Tavares transitioned into the UFC in 2007 and won three of his first four before losing back to back bouts in 2008.  His career has been resurrected as of late winning 4 of his last 6 including his last two against Spencer Fisher at UFC 134 in August of 2011 and Sam Stout at UFC 142 last January.

Nurmagomedov, 24, is a Russian born mixed martial artist who fights out of several gyms across the world including the Red Fury Fight Team and AMA Fight Club.  The 5’10” Nurmagomedov made his professional debut in 2008 and went unbeaten through his first 16 bouts while competing in both Russian and Ukraine promotions like Pro FC and the M-1 Challenge.  The well rounded lightweight made his way into the UFC in 2012 and submitted Kamal Shalorus at UFC on FX last January and picked up a unanimous decision victory over Gleison Tibau at UFC 148 this past July.

PREDICTION – NURMAGOMEDOV DECISION

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ben Rothwell

Former Heavyweight Challenger Gabriel Gonzaga (13-6) is attempting to get back to that status starting with “Big” Ben Rothwell (32-8) when the two meet at UFC on FX 7 in a main card bout.

Gonzaga, 33, is a Brazil born mixed martial artist who fights out of Massachusetts with his Team Link.  The 6’2” 250-pound heavyweight made his professional debut in 2003 and produced a 4-1 mark while fighting in Brazilian regional promotions.  He signed with the UFC in 2005 and won his first four inside the octagon to earn a title opportunity against then-Champion Randy Couture.  Couture finished Gonzaga at UFC 74 in August 2007 ending his title chances.  After the loss to Couture, Gonzaga went on to win only three of his next seven bouts under the UFC banner before being released from his contract.  Gonzaga wasn’t out of the promotion for long; he defeated his only opponent in a Connecticut-based regional organization before earning another invite from the world’s largest promotion.  In his return at UFC 142 last January, Gonzaga won via submission over Ednaldo Oliveira.

Rothwell, 31, is a Wisconsin based mixed martial artist who fights out of his own Rothwell MMA team.  The 6’4” former kickboxer made his professional MMA debut in 2001 and won 30 out of his first 36 while touring mid-level promotions like the IFL, Affliction, and King of the Cage.  Rothwell made his way into the UFC in late-2009 and has split his four bouts in the octagon up to this point.  After losing his UFC debut, Rothwell has rebounded to win two of his last three including an upset at UFC 145 last April winning via 1st round KO over Brendan Schaub.

PREDICTION – GONZAGA TKO

Daniel Sarafian vs. CB Dollaway

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil finalist Daniel Sarafian (7-2) finally makes his Octagon debut at UFC on FX 7 against veteran middleweight CB Dollaway on the events’ main card.

Sarafian, 30, is a Brazilian based mixed martial artist who fights out of American Top Team in Florida.  The 5’9” middleweight made his professional debut in 2006 and won three of his first five bouts dropping a Bellator 1 bout along the way.  He rebounded from his BFC loss with wins in his next four fights which included three submissions.  The submission based fighter spent 2012 on TUF Brazil where he advanced into the finals before an injury took his chance of a six-figure UFC contract.  The UFC signed the Team Vitor fighter anyway and put him up against a formidable opponent for his debut.

Dollaway, 29, is an Ohio born mixed martial artist who is now based out of Arizona with Power MMA and Fitness.  “The Doberman” made his professional debut in 2006 and won his first six bouts fighting in multiple regional organizations.  Dollaway earned a spot on TUF 7 and advanced into the Finale where he was eventually defeated by Amir Sadollah.  Dollaway won five of his next six bouts and picking up two “Submission of the Night” bonuses along the way.  His momentum was stopped in 2011 after dropping back to back bouts.  In 2012, Dollaway rebounded to win his only fight at UFC 146 this past May by picking up a lackluster decision victory over Jason Miller.

PREDICTION – SARAFIAN DECISION

Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping

The UFC on FX 7 main event features Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (21-10) against Michael Bisping (23-4) in a middleweight clash.  Bisping will earn a UFC Middleweight Title opportunity with a victory over the former Champion.

Belfort, 35, is a Brazil native who now fights out of the Jaco Hybrid Training Center.  “The Phenom” made his professional debut in 1996 and won 6 of his first 7 including a 5-1 run in the early years of the UFC.  Belfort moved over into the PRIDE organization in 1999 and won four of his five for the Japanese based organization before returning in 2002.  In his second UFC stint, Belfort won the light-heavyweight title before leaving once again in 2005.  This time Belfort remained out of the organization fighting for Cage Rage, Affliction, PRIDE, and Strikeforce before returning for a third UFC stint in 2009.  His current stint in the octagon has produced a 3-2 mark with his only losses coming in title bouts.  He dropped a UFC 126 fight with Anderson Silva for the 185-pound title and in his most recent fight lost to Jon Jones for the 205-pound title this past September at UFC 152.

PREDICTION – BELFORT DECISION

By Nick Russell

ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

Posted in UFC.