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Uncaged: The UFC are back in action in Brazil
Former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold takes on a former UFC champion in Vitor Belfort. Kablamo.

THE GLOBAL POPULARITY of the UFC knows no bounds at the moment and it returns from a three-week hiatus to put on a show in the MMA hotbed of Brazil this weekend.

While the whole card, on paper, may not look to be the strongest of the year the chance to see a former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold take on a former UFC champion in Vitor Belfort may just persuade a few diehards to stay up to the wee hours to catch it live.

The predictably Brazilian-laden card does boast a few other points of interest though. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza makes his organisational debut against Chris Camozzi after impressing in Strikeforce before it folded and the Evan Dunham-Rafael Dos Anjos bout could provide the evening’s fireworks.

Belfort just keeps on going

Vitor Belfort has been around the UFC for over sixteen years having made his debut way back at UFC 12 in 1997 and he is showing no signs of slowing down. Hungry and as deadly as ever, the loss he suffered to Jon Jones recently was merely a huge personal disappointment, not the start of his decline as some suggested.

His emphatic KO of Michael Bisping in January meant that he is still rightly one of the top five middleweights in the world. In Luke Rockhold he faces the last defending Strikeforce middleweight champ who after winning the belt with a surprise victory over “Jacare” in 2011, has defended it twice since before making the enforced crossover.

Belfort’s strategy isn’t going to be any real surprise, although his armbar against Jones proved his still has a trick up his sleeve while Rockhold will be looking to question the Brazilian’s cardio by staying on the outside for much of the early rounds.

If Rockhold has the ability to stay clear of Belfort’s ferocious shots early, forcing the Brazilian to miss repeatedly then he has a good chance of winning the longer the fight goes on. But as we’ve seen so many times before, the nature of a fight can change with one well connected punch and if “The Phenom” connects it could be lights out for the Californian.

YouTube credit: Alan Uragan

Best of the rest

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is regarded as one of the best grapplers in the world and has been a man on a mission ever since losing his middleweight belt to Luke Rockhold in 2011. He won his three fights last since and beat Ed Herman in the first round of their fight back in January.

He was originally due to face Constantinos Philippou until an eye injury ruled him out and Chris Camozzi stepped in. Souza presents a serious step up in class for the former TUF competitor although he has some momentum coming into this fight by winning his last four bouts.

Camozzi must keep the fight standing if he is to have any chance of winning and against “Jacare” that is by no means a certainty. This fight could be over very early if the Brazilian takes it to the mat.

YouTube credit: Whitemare96

A win for either Rafael dos Anjos or Evan Dunham could mean a star name from the lightweight division next time out and with it a chance to move higher up the divisional ladder. Dunham got to 11-0 before losing three of his next six fights while dos Anjos has won seven of his last nine.

The Brazilian may just have the edge on the ground although both men have pretty similar ability in that department, so the stand-up battle could hold the key to victory and of that is the case Dunham could be the slight favourite because of his higher work-rate on the feet. Rafael Natal vs. Joao Zeferin make up the main card.

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