My review of UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort, which was a good card but felt like it was lacking a little something.
Jon Jones def. Vitor Belfort: Belfort got his early flurry, but strangely enough, it came on the ground. After that it was academic. Jones got an early takedown and Belfort managed to shock almost everyone, including Jones, by locking on an armbar that hyper extended the elbow of Jones. To his credit, Jones didn’t tap, remained calm, and got out of the position, but it was a definite scare for the champ. After that, Jones settled into his zone and did his thing. On the feet, he used his kicks to keep Belfort at distance and easily moved away when Belfort would press forward. Jones has always had good kicks, but now he’s throwing them with more technicality, which means they have a lot more power to them. Jones actually dropped Belfort with a side kick to the body after methodically breaking him down with a variety of kicks. On the ground, Jones did his usual thing, which was batter Belfort with elbows and cut him up. The end came when Jones decided to stop screwing around in guard, easily get side control, pin down the arm, and lock up an americana. It once again felt like Jones never kicked it into high gear, but that’s just a testament as to how good he is. Unlike say Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre though, Jones will get better. He’s going to see what he did wrong and why he got caught in that armbar and I guarantee you he’ll never make that mistake again. Besides that, he can still improve his boxing by leaps and bounds as it was pretty nonexistent against Belfort. Jones may never be the all out flashy fighter that he once was, but a more technical and methodical Jones combined with his unpredictability makes more arguably the most dangerous fighter in the sport today. This was a no lose situation for Belfort and he made the most of it. The armbar will have people talking and the fact that he fought injured will lead to a “Belfort is an extremely tough dude who will fight anyone” narrative. At 185, Belfort can still beat anyone and take this fight will help is standing with the UFC brass.
Demetrious Johnson def. Joseph Benavidez: I have to apologize to Johnson. I thought Benavidez was better than him in every area (albeit slightly) and that Johnson’s speed wouldn’t be a huge factor in this one. I was wrong. Johnson’s speed was a huge factor and that allowed him to be slightly better than Benavidez in every aspect. This was a fun fight, although the Toronto crowd disagrees. Benavidez kept trying to pressure Johnson and essentially chase him on the feet, but Johnson did a great job just moving out of the way and then countering. Benavidez landed his fair share of punches, but Johnson held up against most of them. The one he didn’t hold up to was in the fourth round, which might be the best round of action all year. Benavidez dropped Johnson early, looked for a guillotine, mounted him with the guillotine, but Johnson just managed to wiggle himself free. After surviving the near finish, Johnson came back strong to out-strike Benavidez and score multiple takedowns. It was a great back and fourth round that had everything you want in a MMA fight. In fact, this fight showcased all aspects of MMA at the highest level. In the round, Johnson ended up taking the decision to become the first ever flyweight champion. It’s an uphill battle for the flyweight because of the newness of the division and the fact that a lot of fans just don’t care about the smaller guys no matter how good the fight is, but you can almost always count on Johnson to turn in a fun performance with plenty of action. I hope the UFC doesn’t try to do too much too soon with the flyweights, like have them headline PPVs, because that’s a guarantee PPV flop. They should be showcased in co-main events and possibly even on FOX with a strong undercard in order to build them up. There’s not much depth to the division but I figure more guys at 135 will drop down because that’s what always happens. Due to that lack of depth, Benavidez is still in the title picture despite the fact that nobody from Team Alpha Male will ever win a UFC title. I know that statement sounds a little harsh, but these guys have had a million title chances dating back to when Urijah Faber lost and they’ve yet to hold gold. My MMA life partner Samer Kadi suggested that they be renamed Team Bridesmaids and from now on, that’s what they’ll be called.
Michael Bisping def. Brian Stann: I was impressed with Bisping in this fight. Granted it was a typical Bisping fight where he got wobbled, survived, and came back to more or less dominate the rest of the fight, but on the whole I thought he turned in a very good performance. His one-two was there all fight and he did a great job mixing in takedowns as well. In fact, I was most impressed with his takedowns in this fight. I’ve always said that Bisping as underrated wrestling because people just assume that, because he’s British, he has no wrestling, but he’s actually a very good wrestler regardless of nationality. Stann’s never had great takedown defense, but he usually only gets dominated by vastly superior wrestlers. In this fight, Bisping proved to have vastly superior wrestling. Even though he didn’t do much with this takedowns, the fact that he could get Stann down wit regularity opening up his striking even more. I didn’t think Stann fought a bad fight, but he was looking too much for the knockout blow. I thought he should’ve gone to the body more and used more kicks, but I have to credit Bisping and his jab for really throwing off the timing and rhythm of Stann’s game. Stann is quickly becoming the gatekeeper of the middleweight division, which I’m sure he’s not happy about. He’ll beat his fair share of guys but every time he’s face a guy who has legit title claims, he’s faltered. And Bisping has a legit title claim. Not only is his record very good, but he, unlike pretty much everyone else at middleweight, is a draw. If you do him vs. Anderson Silva in England, it’s a guarantee sell out and a fight that would do well on PPV given how good Bisping is at running his mouth.
Matt Hamill def. Roger Hollett: This fight sucked. Hamill dominated rounds one and three with his wrestling and neither man did anything in the second round. Hollett in particular did absolutely nothing. I know HOMETOWN OCTAGON JITTERS got in the way, but for a guy who has been boxing since he was five (as claimed by the broadcast team), his striking against Hamill really sucked. Hamill did what he had to do, and that’s get the fight to the ground and control Hollett while punching him at will. Hamill is a nice story and everything, but he’s a mid-level fighter who is never going to improve and shouldn’t be on the main card at this point. I’m sure Hollett will do better next time when he’s not fighting in Canada and in his 2nd UFC fight.
Cub Swanson def. Charles Oliveira: This may have been the funniest KO in UFC history. Swanson hit Oliveira with a couple of nice body shots that seemed to stun him and then followed up with a big overhand right that connected clean on the temple. Oliveira didn’t collapse like say Cain Velasquez against Junior dos Santos though, instead he backed up a bit, tried to catch his breath, and then just fell down. If you’ve ever seen Ric Flair’s delayed reaction flop, that’s exactly what this was. Prior to the knock out, Oliveira looked decent with his range and scoring with a takedown, but none of it mattered once he was out cold on the ground. I don’t know what it is with Oliveira, but he just continues to disappoint me. This was a very winnable fight and yet the body shots got to him again. It’s what Donald Cerrone put him away with, and Swanson, who trains with Cerrone, obviously saw that and capitalized as well. Oliveira has all the talent in the world, but he just comes up small in big fights and doesn’t use his length like he should. I give credit to Swanson, who has really rebounded in a big way since his WEC days to score three straight KO’s over very good competition. It’s still tough to take him seriously as a title contender because of what Jose Aldo did to him, but if Swanson wins one more in impressive fashion, it’s going to be tough to deny him a title shot. Especially since, with the way Aldo keeps getting hurt, his title shot might not be against Aldo and could be for an interim title.