Vitor Belfort records TKO
Vitor Belfort might not face middleweight champion Anderson Silva in his next fight -- but neither will Michael Bisping.
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Belfort, 35, scored the 15th knockout of his career on Saturday, finishing Bisping via TKO in the second round of their middleweight bout at a UFC on FX event in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The Brazilian rocked Bisping with a high left head kick early in the second round, only moments after he had hurt him with the same strike late in the first.
Referee Dan Mirogliotta gave Bisping every opportunity to survive, but Belfort, as he's done so many times in his storied career, followed with a flurry of punches to put Bisping away at the 1:27 mark of the round.
After the fight, with Silva in the crowd, Belfort (22-10) elected to instead call out the man who last beat him, light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Jones defeated Belfort via submission last September in a fight Belfort accepted on short notice. Jones is now scheduled to fight Chael Sonnen in April.
"I want to get the belt," Belfort said. "Take that punk Chael Sonnen out, I don't even know your name. Get out. Let me fight Jon Jones. I need that rematch. Take that clown away."
Sonnen (27-12-1) continues to find the spotlight despite it being a year since his last win. He volunteered to move up in weight for a fight against Jones in September, eventually landing a coaching job opposite the champ on The Ultimate Fighter reality series.
It was Sonnen who disrupted Bisping's last title run, defeating him via decision in January 2012. Bisping (23-5) had been promised a shot against Silva with a win on Saturday. He has fought 18 times in the Octagon, but never competed for the title.
"It was a beautiful kick. He was the better man than me tonight," Bisping said.
"You win some, you lose some. Trust me, I'll be back at the top of this pile before you know it."
Prior to the fight, the consensus was Belfort would prove most dangerous early. All nine of his UFC finishes have come in the first round.
Belfort seemed to pace himself early against Bisping, though. Relying mostly on counter punches, he slipped away from the majority of Bisping's offense before eventually moving forward with the devastating head kick.
He has now won three of his past four, with the only loss coming to Jones. He suffered a first-round knockout loss to Silva in a middleweight title fight in February 2011.
C.B. Dollaway overcame a slow start to edge Daniel Sarafian
Making his UFC debut after an impressive showing on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil reality series last year, Sarafian owned Dollaway in the first round. An overhand right nearly put away Dollaway early, but the former collegiate wrestler survived.
Things changed drastically late in the second frame when Dollaway caught Sarafian with an uppercut as he shot for a double-leg takedown. Visibly hurt, Sarafian turtled up as Dollaway swarmed with right hands with only moments left in the round. The bell eventually saved Sarafian.
Sarafian, held out of action in 2012 because of a bicep injury, appeared fatigued in the third. Dollaway cracked him with a right hand, which he followed with a takedown. Sarafian managed to rally later in the round, sweeping Dollaway onto his back and nearly locking in a rear-naked choke.
Two judges scored it 29-28 Dollaway; the other had Sarafian ahead 29-28. ESPN.com scored it 29-28 in favor of Dollaway.
Dollaway (13-4) has now won two in a row after dropping two consecutive fights for the first time in his career. The Arizona-based middleweight has compiled a 7-4 overall record in the Octagon. Sarafian (7-3) suffers his first loss since April 2009.
Gonzaga returns from year layoff, submits Rothwell
Gabriel Gonzaga has started 2013 exactly how he began 2012 -- a submission victory in his native country of Brazil.
Gonzaga beat up fellow heavyweight Ben Rothwell a bit on the feet before locking in a guillotine choke at the 1:01 mark of the second round. Besides stuffing a few early takedowns, Rothwell was unable to mount any kind of offense, despite changes to his training and diet.
It was a solid performance by Gonzaga, who was limited to the one January fight last year due to injury. He had been scheduled to fight Geronimo dos Santos at UFC 153, but that bout fell through due to injury.
"Jiu-jitsu saves, thank God. This win couldn't be any better. I was able to fight in Brazil twice and be victorious both times. It's always great to be able to count on the support of the crowd. I envisioned myself winning either via KO or submission."
Gonzaga (14-6) looked to bring the fight to the ground early, latching onto a single-leg takedown attempt in the opening moments of the fight. Rothwell backed up to the fence and managed to stay on his feet, but ate a few right hands in the process.
Gonzaga opened a cut on the left cheek of Rothwell in the first and hurt him again in the second, which led to the finish.
The win brings Gonzaga's win streak to three, although he's fought just three times in the past three years. Rothwell (32-9) suffered only the second submission loss of his 12-year career. He falls to 2-3 overall in the UFC.
Nurmagomedov finishes Tavares early, stays perfect
Khabib Nurmagomedov is still undefeated.
The Russian lightweight moved to 3-0 in the Octagon with a first-round TKO victory over seasoned veteran Thiago Tavares. The finish came less than two minutes into the fight.
Nurmagomedov dropped Tavares with an early lead left hook to the chin. Tavares attempted to survive from half-guard but a series of elbows from Nurmagomedov forced referee Dan Mirogliotta to stop the action at the 1:55 mark.
"It was great that when I walked in, I was being booed, but then when I was leaving, the crowd was cheering for me. My T-shirt yesterday ("If sambo was easy, it'd be called jiu-jitsu") was just a friendly joke, a jiu-jitsu black belt told me to do it! But Brazilians have a great sense of humor."
Nurmagomedov (19-0) continues to pile up wins in the stacked lightweight division. The 24-year-old made an instant impression in the UFC, choking out Kamal Shalorus in his debut one year ago. Tavares (17-5-1) suffers his first loss since March 2011.
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