UFC on FX 8: May 18, 2013 Jaragua do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil UFC Middleweight Contender Rafael Natal (-350) Profile: A simple way to sum up Rafael Natal (15-4-1) is by looking at his training camp. The Renzo Grazie team out of New York is a murderer’s row of tough guys, and having Gracie in your corner is a good way to make sure you’re part of the upper echelon of the sport. At his core, Natal is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wiz, but he can do just about anything and does not need to fall back on his superior grappling if he doesn’t have to. He has been able to strike with the majority of the sport for years – as evidenced by his knockout win over vet Travis Lutter back in 2010 – and can outgrapple nearly anyone using his BJJ black belt when the situation calls for it. While Natal has been struggling to finish his opponents of late with just one stoppage victory among his last six bouts, he has still managed to win three of his past four in strong fashion. UFC Middleweight Contender Joao Zeferino (+250) Profile: Little is known about 27-year-old Brazilian Joao Zeferino (13-4), who was signed by the UFC after a hectic reshuffling of the UFC on FX 8 card that was briefly set sideways by the injury bug. But after some tape watching, it looks like Natal may have a tenacious ground game to deal with. Zeferino is an extremely aggressive grappler that will usually close the distance early and often, put opponents on their back, then work for whatever submission is open to him. He is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak, with nine of his 13 victories overall coming via first-round submission. Opening UFC on FX 8 Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Natal a heavy -350 favorite (bet $350 to win $100) while Zeferino opened as a +250 underdog (bet $100 to win $250) at 5Dimes sportsbook. Natal has not been overly impressive so far in his UFC career with a 3-2-1 mark, and his job may be indeed on the line here against fellow Brazilian Zeferino, who can challenge him on the ground and actually has more submission wins despite fighting in three less bouts overall. The problem is, Natal has never been submitted, and Zeferino is not a knockout artist by any means with only one TKO victory among his 13 wins. Natal has experienced cardio issues in the past though, and that could definitely play a role against an opponent like Zeferino who is a very strong grappler like himself. If this fight does not end with a submission, the amount of activity on the ground will likely be the deciding factor for the judges.
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