Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort
Well, it has been a while. The UFC is finally prepared for another show after over a month off and according to Dana White, we should be pointing the finger at Jon Jones. Whether that is true or false is up for debate but we can finally move on and it starts now.
The UFC makes their way back to Toronto as Jon ‘Bones’ Jones once again headlines a card against another former Light-Heavyweight champion in Vitor ‘The Phenom’ Belfort. The fights will be held in the Air Canada Center on September 22nd. Along with the Light-Heavyweight title bout, the first ever Flyweight champ will be crowned as Joseph Benavidez takes on Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson. There will be five main card bouts aired live on PPV which includes the UFC debut of Canadian Roger Hollett. There are also four preliminary bouts aired live on FX in the US and Sportsnet in Canada. The three remaining fights will be aired live on Facebook. There are three Canadians total on the preliminary card.
UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship Bout
Champion Jon Jones (16-1) vs. Vitor Belfort (21-9)
It has been a hectic few weeks for the UFC. It should be safe to say that UFC Light-Heavyweight champ Jon Jones has become the most hated fighter in MMA and UFC President has only made his image worse. Vitor Belfort has an increased fan base because of his willingness to take a fight with the champion despite being a Middleweight. Many are complaining about this fight, claiming Vitor stands no chance and the odds makers feel the same way; however, there is no denying a fighter like Vitor can beat any fighter at any time because of his lightening fast speed and power in both of his hands. There really is not much to say about Jon Jones. He is arguably the most talented fighter in the world and has all the offensive and defensive skills a fighter could want. He is also physically intimidating standing 6’4 with an 84+ inch reach.
Belfort is a legend. People may want to disagree with that statement but being a UFC Heavyweight tournament winner at the age of 19 and the UFC Light-Heavyweight champion helps the pro-Vitor argument. He is well-rounded as he is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under the late Carlson Gracie. He has underrated wrestling but his best offensive weapon is his hands. When he blitzes his opponent, they are clearly in danger of being finished. Many have questioned his heart and his cardio but as long as he paces himself until he finds an opening, he could very well upset Jones. He must go into this bout knowing he has nothing to lose. He will be respected for taking the bout regardless of how it ends and he has an opportunity to leave it all out there and do something special. Jones is an intelligent fighter and if he can weather the storm that is Vitor’s combinations, he should be able to not only win the fight, but finish off the Brazilian within the first three rounds. Vitor is an underrated opponent for Jones and he has some of the best finishing ability in the sport today but Jones is arguably the best fighter in the world. He should be able to get the fight to the ground and finish for another impressive victory.
Prediction: Jones via TKO Round 2
UFC Flyweight Championship Bout
Joseph Benavidez (16-2) vs. Demetrious Johnson (15-2-1)
After the Flyweight division debuted back in March, the UFC is finally prepared to declare a champion for the smallest weight class in the organization. The four-man tournament was an exciting one and Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson are now prepared to become champions in the UFC. Benavidez has been nothing short of impressive in his career. He was dominant in the 135 pound division but was unable to get by Bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, losing twice via very tight decisions. Many had been awaiting his opportunity against 125 pounders and he looked like his typical dominant self against Yasuhiro Urushitani. He was able to put down the Japanese fighter with a straight and finish the fight immediately after with ground and pound.
Johnson fought Flyweight standout, Ian McCall, to a controversial draw (which Johnson was originally awarded) back in March but Johnson proved he was the rightful victor of the original bout after getting the decision in their second fight. He now has another opportunity at UFC gold, losing his first shot in October of 2011 when he took on Cruz for the Bantamweight title. Johnson will be the faster fighter and few will argue that. He has some of the best movement in MMA which allows his wrestling to flourish. He is an offensive fighter, looking to constantly push the pace and score points. Benavidez will be the bully of the 125 pounders. He has power in both of his hands and dominant top position as well as solid jiu-jitsu. For Johnson to win this fight, he will need to consistently stray away from the punching power of Benavidez. On the other side of the cage, Benavidez will need to use his dominant positioning to control the fight. If he gets the fight to the ground, Benavidez should be able to frustrate the smaller Johnson and he could very well finish with either punches or a submission.
Prediction: Benavidez via TKO Round 3
Michael Bisping (22-4) vs. Brian Stann (12-4)
The Middleweight division is currently in a very confusing position. This fight between Ultimate Fighter winner, Michael Bisping and U.S. marine Brian Stann should help clear up the picture for the division. Bisping is coming off of a controversial loss to Chael Sonnen back in January but looked very impressive in defeat. Stann was able to show off his punching power against Italian striker, Alessio Sakara. He is known as a knockout artist and has proven that in his last three wins against Sakara, Jorge Rivera and Chris Leben. Before losing to Sonnen, Bisping was on a hot streak, winning four straight fights but against lower level Middleweights.
Both of these guys are looking to finally make a statement in the division. It would be the biggest win in either of their careers. It will primarily be a stand up battle. Stann has a tendency to go head hunting when he begins to feel comfortable in a fight. It has paid off until his opponents begin to grapple with him and take advantage of his biggest weakness. Bisping is one of the best boxers in the division. He may lack power, but the frustration of his opponents shows when he begins to utilize his jab consistently. Regardless of how he is performing, Stann will likely look to take Bisping’s head off. He is a talented striker and surprisingly is fairly well-rounded on the feet but it is clear that he will likely need to finish the Brit to win this fight; Bisping should be able to use his movement to succeed in the stand up and take the decision.
Prediction: Bisping via Unanimous Decision
Matt Hamill (10-4) vs. Roger Hollett (13-3)
A little over a year after losing his last fight and retiring from the sport, Matt Hamill is ready to make his return to the Octagon against Canadian Light-Heavyweight newcomer, Roger Hollett. Hamill looked horrible in his last bout against Alexander Gustafsson and is looking to avoid three straight losses. Hollett is a talented striker with solid submission skills. There is no doubt that this is the biggest fight of his career against the best guy he has ever fought. Hamill has solid wrestling although he is a pretty slow fighter. His movement is his biggest weakness but he is a strong fighter that could impose his will. Hollett will need to keep the fight on the feet and avoid bottom position against Hamill. The UFC veteran has solid ground and pound but his striking is not so bad either. He proved that against Keith Jardine and Tito Ortiz. Hollett will need to move well and avoid being pushed up against the fence. He has the skill to be a nice addition to the UFC roster but this will be a tough first test. It likely will not go so well for the Canadian as Hamill is just too experienced against top competition.
Prediction: Hamill via Unanimous Decision
Charles Oliveira (16-2) vs. Cub Swanson (17-5)
Arguably the two most exciting fighters in the Featherweight division are Charles Oliveira and Cub Swanson. There is no better way to kick start an event than putting these two offensive juggernauts in the Octagon together. Both fighters are very similar in their fight style. They constantly push the pace and are only satisfied with getting a finish. Where they differ is Swanson is better known for his striking and Oliveira is known for his wicked crafty ground attack. It is actually crazy to think Swanson is awesome on the ground and Oliveira is excellent on the feet. There is no denying how good both these guys are.
Swanson has proven to be wild at times and can leave himself open to submissions as he proved recently against Ricardo Lamas. After losing to Lamas, Swanson won his last two with awesome knockouts against Ross Pearson and George Roop. Oliveira had a lot of hype behind him in the Lightweight division but he was far too small against fighters such as Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone. His Featherweight debut against Jonathon Brookins was fantastic. He pushed the pace against a fighter that is usually the one to move forward and made the Ultimate Fighter winner fight his fight. If this fight stays on the feet, it should be fairly even with the only difference being Swanson’s power. If this fight hits the ground, which it will at some point, Oliveira will be able to use his crazy ground attack to finish the fight.
Prediction: Oliveira via Rear Naked Choke Round 2
Evan Dunham (13-2) vs. T.J. Grant (18-5)
After a big set back against Melvin Guillard in January 2011, Evan Dunham is moving his way back up the ranks, looking dominant in his last two victories. He will be going up against Canadian T.J. Grant, who has looked very impressive since moving to the Lightweight division. Grant has been able to utilize his wrestling and excellent top control against solid grapplers in Shane Roller and Carlo Prater. Grant is one of the more underrated fighters in the UFC but he could make a statement against Dunham, who before losing to Guillard was on his way to the top of the division. Both fighters are exciting in their own ways. Dunham is more skilled overall and has very good boxing. He likes to mix up his strikes, attacking all areas whenever he finds an opening. Grant will have a grappling advantage based on his size and strength. The former Welterweight will need to get the fight to the ground and control the fight from the top. Dunham is crafty on the ground and will give Grant a hard time but it is hard to say who will be able to impose their advantages in this fight. Despite losing to Sean Sherk (in an extremely questionable decision) Dunham was able to do as he pleased against a superior grappler and that should be the case against Grant.
Prediction: Dunham via Unanimous Decision
Sean Pierson (12-6) vs. Lance Benoist (6-1)
Canadian Welterweight Sean Pierson is coming off of a much needed victory against Jake Hecht. Prior to that victory, he lost to a couple top Welterweight contenders in Jake Ellenberger and Dong Hyun Kim. His opponent, Lance Benoist, looked great in his debut against Matt Riddle but had a minor setback against Seth Baczynski where he lost a razor thin split decision. They are both good grapplers though it has not been shown in any of their Octagon appearances. Pierson has good wrestling while Benoist has a pretty slick jiu-jitsu game. What has been proven by both fighters is that they are very entertaining fighters on the feet. Pierson has excellent boxing and he is an aggressive fighter that will move forward and find his openings. Benoist will throw several kicks from all angles and try to connect and score points. He is a quick and agile fighter and will likely try to use his speed and quickness as his advantage. Pierson is the bigger and more physically imposing fighter and should be able to use that to his advantage. His boxing should be able to help get him the victory over a solid opponent.
Prediction: Pierson via Unanimous Decision
Mitch Gagnon (8-2) vs. Walel Watson (9-4)
Canadian Bantamweight Mitch Gagnon was looking great in his UFC debut against Bryan Caraway. He was dominating the fight in all areas until, well, he gassed. Caraway quickly took advantage and was able to submit the Sudbury, Ontario native. Walel Watson looked great in his debut against Joseph Sandoval and was given an immediate step up in competition when he took on Yves Jabouin. It was a great back and forth bout that could have went either way but Jabouin got the nod. He then went on to fight T.J. Dillashaw who completely destroyed him. Gagnon has a similar skill set to Dillashaw where he is generally the aggressor and the guy that decides the pace with solid grappling and striking. If Gagnon can maintain a solid gas tank, he should be able to beat the very lanky Watson. If he is unable to maintain a consistent pace, Watson should be able to take advantage. It should be an interesting fight with both guys desperate for a win.
Prediction: Gagnon via TKO Round 2