TORONTO – After months of controversial developments outside of the cage, Jon Jones is still very much the same man inside of it.
The UFC light heavyweight champion survived a brief scare from massive underdog Vitor Belfort, but "Bones" proved why he's considered by some to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport with a thorough dismantling of his opponent.
The bout served as the main event of Saturday's UFC 152 event at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The fight aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.
Jones shot in on a single-leg takedown attempt, and Belfort looked for a guillotine choke but instead fell to his back. As Jones looked to posture up, Belfort threatened by securing the right arm and quickly turning his hips for an armbar that momentarily looked as if it would see him pull off the miraculous finish. However, Hones stood and shook Belfort off his limb and set back up in top position. Still, the moment sent the Toronto crowd into a frenzy, and fans chanted his name. It didn't seem to faze Jones, who methodically disassembled Belfort's face with crushing elbows and punches.
Belfort started the fourth with an exchange on the feet, but he couldn't land flush, and he instead fell to his back. Jones seized the opportunity and gave up the ground and pound in favor of a submission attempt, quickly latching on to a keylock from side control and cranking the right arm. Trapped, Belfort had no choice but to tap.
Bruce Buffer looked like a card dealer tonight, but that still wasn't as good as hipster Rory MacDonald. Onward!
Jones vs Belfort- After powering through a tight armbar in R1, Jon Jones batters Vitor Belfort with elbows and stomp kicks to lock up a sharp arm lock early in R4. As with most fights with a storyline, the controversy and drama coming in was more exciting than the fight itself. All props to Vitor for taking the fight, for showing flashes of his scary hands, and for (yes, I'm bringing this up again because it was awesome) nearly going home with Jones' arm early on. And really, props to Jones for perservering through it. We can say all we want about his physical advantages and the storyline from the last month, but he's still a mortal man. And both of these guys were 100% class at the end.
Benavidez vs Johnson - As expected, Mighty Mouse uses his superior speed and technique to outpoint Benavidez to become the UFC's first flyweight champion. I have mad respect for Johnson's progression, for his ability and discipline and heart. He's here because he put in the work. I'd like to see him open up more and finish more guys, but he earned this belt for sure. What's next? Dodson might match his speed and (presuming he gets past Jussier) would likely be the best next opponent, but I'm not sure he has the TDD to not get outpointed as well. Benavidez remains one of the top flyweights in the world, but if he works his way to a rematch, he'll need to cut off the cage more effectively and tighten up that boxing. He's already got the power - he just needs to land more often.
Bisping vs Stann - A vintage Bisping 3R performance, winning through tactics and timing, taking 2 rounds to 1. Nothing in this fight changed Bisping's chances against Anderson, but at this point, I think he's earned it - or in the very least, a fight with Weidman for the #1 contender. Obviously Stann should continue to work on his TDD, especially with his commitment to defend once engaged. He looked a bit tentative from the clinch, when he should've gone for a body lock or underhooks ASAP. On top of that, he has the style for rib roasters, and more of those'd open up his overhand right.
Hamill vs Hollett - Hamill grapples and volume GnPs his way through a 3R snoozer. I understand the bigger fighters tend to get priority on the main card, but keeping Dunham/Grant off the PPV was only countered by the total viewership of the free TV undercard. Prestige versus raw numbers, I suppose. Either way, decent R1 and R3 GnP by Hamill, mostly in quantity. While Hollett showed durability by surviging and looking unharmed for most of the fight, he needed to get after it more on the feet. I liked the first spinning back kick he threw, but after that they were too predictable - the trick's in the surprise. Afterwards, Hamill was able to shoot and arm punch just enough for the decision. While we lucked out a bit in this being the first disapponting fight tonight, this had undercard written all over it. I don't mean to fighter bash here, but honestly, I got more out of seeing Royce and Rousey.
Swanson vs Oliviera - One of the most impressive - and hilarious in slo-mo - KOs that I can remember, Swanson stops Oliviera with a big, delayed-effect punch midway through R1. While Rogan's correct in that Swanson often wings his punches, he also throws a good mix of straight punches as well. The big punch was set up by a brutal liver punch seconds before, and though Oliviera showed some heart in trying to tough it out initially, it was already over. Cub's a worthy opponent for anyone from here, and he's made real progress since diving into Aldo's knee a couple years ago. Not only has his striking improved considerably, he's gotten ahold of his injury problems which is just as important. For Oliviera, he remains one of the top talents in the division, and christ, he's only 22. To say he has time is an understatement.
Magalhaes vs Pokrajac - A reminder that high level BJJ is still relevant, Magalhaes taps Pokrajac early in R2 via armbar. The first round was hard to score, lots of neutralizing clinch work and grappling exchanges, but that was irrelevant in R2. Pokrajac may have gotten too comfortable on the ground, and Magalhaes' transition from a failed triangle to a tight armbar through a flip was beautiful. The tap was nearly instant, and this was easily the slickest submission of the night to that point.
Dunham vs Grant - Big contender for Fight of the Night, 3R almost entirely on the feet, with a debateable decision going to Grant. Even though Dunham landed more shots in 2 rounds, Grant seemed to land the more damaging ones while controlling the octagon early on. Dunhan countered that by landing a takedown at the end of each round. The last one was particularly impressive - I heard Dunham yelling through the shot and finishing it with heart. And that cut on Dunham's forehead was vicious. Ray Sefo, one of the greatest kickboxers ever and a hell of a coach, gave the correct (though possibly too late) advice to Dunham, telling him to stand his ground, and that plus Dunham's slightly superior cardio was I felt the difference in R3. The judges disagreed, however, and I think one of them was out of his/her goddamn mind. The rounds were close, but there's no way Grant had all 3 of 'em. Nice knee and significant cut aside, Dunham wasn't significantly staggered at any point and generally had the edge in volume with very solid shots. Either way, I take nothing away from Grant's performance, and while Dunham remains one of my favorites, that's the gameplan to beat him - pressure the shit out of him, don't let him get comfortable with his combos. He's got time to work on that, to use that toughness as a weapon and less of a fallback.
Pierson vs Benoist - A razor close 3R, enjoyable enough to watch, with Pierson eking out 2 rounds to 1 and finally getting a win in his home province. R1 was clearly Pierson's, and he had a really nice counter to a flying strike attempt from Benoist late in R2 - pretty much the same way he tagged Matt Riddle in their fight a while back. If Pierson had countered a similar flying knee attempt in R3, we probably wouldn't have seen that late comeback from Benoist. I think Rogan was a little too kind here - Benoist was sloppy in trying to finish, missing as many shots as he landed, and Pierson did just enough to survive. Had Benoist been a bit more patient, picked his shots and landed cleanly, he would've walked out with the stoppage. And what was up with that clinch work in the closing seconds? Kid is super tough, but he should work on finishing a dazed opponent. For Pierson, we know what we're going to get - an all-around reliable veteran who may fade a bit in the later rounds, but he'll hang through all but the biggest bombs.
Brimage vs Hettes - An entertaining, back-and-forth 3R, easy enough to score for Brimage, 2 rounds to 1. I'll tell you what, Hettes showed me something tonight. I already knew how good he was on the ground, but look at his heart and composure after getting trucked in the 1st round. This is the spirit of a fighter, the hardest thing to teach. Like a lot of young, tough, skilled but kinda wild guys, he just needs a few years under a firm, capable trainer. If he can find that, he could be a force in the division. If he can't, he could stagnate as a tough veteran gatekeeper who never refined his game. Brimage, on the other hand, has to deal with the challenge of a classic in-fighter. Next thing for him to work on is his footwork - he'll be even more dangerous if he can reliably sneak through the taller LWs.
Baczynski vs Thoresen - Clean KO from a counter hook by Baczynski, late in R1. I like Baczynski, he's improved a bit and his management's smart enough to get sensible matchups, but I think Rogan and Goldie were riding his nuts a little too much here. He was clearly outstruck in the 1st round up until the end, and while that finishing left hook was decisive, it was as close to a lucky shot as I'll call. If you truly want a a textbook counter hook, check out Rampage vs. Wanderlei 3, or Overeem vs. Hari. Thoresen looked pretty good for a while, but he left his chin exposed just a bit. Wouldn't mind seeing him again, since he's obviously got some tools.
Gagnon vs Watson - A quick sub by RNC from Gagnon, set up by strikes, early in R1. Gagnon rebounds nicely from a spirited loss in his UFC debut, wouldn't mind seeing him again. Meanwhile, it's 3 down for Watson, and even Sean Shelby has a limit to how many chances he can offer fighters in losing streaks. No shame, though - just back to a smaller promotion to keep working his game, and at 28, he can keep getting better.
Noke vs Brenneman - Another quick finish, this a TKO from punches by Noke early in R1. Perhaps a bit quick stoppage here, but not unreasonable as Brenneman looked like a newlywed wife trying to walk out of the honeymoon suite. Folks are generally figuring out his game, and if he wants to stay in the UFC, he's got to become a better striker. His wrestling isn't so overpowering that he can ride it to a title shot. For Noke, it doesn't really matter who he fights next, as long as it's a quick turnaround. Hell, let's get him in against Pierson.
posted by isk
" I don't mean to fighter bash here, but honestly, I got more out of seeing Royce and Rousey.
Brenneman looked like a newlywed wife trying to walk out of the honeymoon suite""
Do you write professionaly? I like reading these, always accurate and well thought out, keep it up isk
Had it 49-46 Mighty Mouse.
I don't know what is up with that split decision crap in a title fight that wasn't that close, cmon judges. I think the only round I gave to Benavidez was a round he was losing and I gave it to him because he landed decent with that overhand. Mighty Mouse is just too fast, I would say that his kryptonite would be a powerful wrestler but it's hard to see anyone keeping this athletic freak down. Maybe Dodson could give him a good scrap otherwise flyweight is looking thin.
Jones with another brilliant Sub.
But wow, Vitor almost had that armbar, he was in trouble there I am sure of it. I'm standing up outta my seat screaming 'break his arm!' and 'get that belt!' but Jones showed another advantage, he is pretty flexible, seriously, that was a cinched up armbar Vitor threw up, he did his homework. Too bad for Vitor his jiu jitsu was also his undoing, ironically flopped to the floor Werdum style. Unless Jones gets clipped hard and finished like GSP vs Serra I don't see Jones getting beat.
Bisping did his Hendo face when Stann hit him.
I'm thinking Bisping is ripe for a KO loss soon especially as he climbs the ladder and would not put up a good fight against Anderson. Would I watch him get ktfo in a title fight he doesn't deserve? Meh, it would be funny though. Mike's cardio, output and footwork to me are becoming his defense mechanisms for his chin. Which has been cracked in quite a few of his fights including a knockdown from Elvis Sinosic.
Fun night of fights for sure.
Not a bad night of fights...i agree
Terrible fights! I picked all the important ones wrong and lost 300$.
But seriously, there were some great fights and all those delayed reaction knockdowns were crazy. I was incredibly impressed with TJ Grant, I never thought he would win a standup match with Dunham. Also hats off to Noke who made Brenneman /ragequit after some solid shots.
Belfort folded under pressure, kept pulling guard(aside from jj's takedowns) should have let the hands go.
Definitely agree. Most of the fights were awesome.
Posted by infestructure
Do you write professionaly? I like reading these, always accurate and well thought out, keep it up isk
Thanks. I do - this is just for fun.
I AM NOT TIM ROBBINS!.....and i liked your writing too.
Belfort fought a better fight than he's getting credit for. Jones looked merely like a genetically gifted human and not something that would come back in time to kill John Connor.
Belfort looked ok at best...like i said he should have let the hands go a bit more(prob wouldnt have helped but couldnt hurt either)
Ricardo Lamas' win over Swanson is looking more impressive than ever.