Calling The Shots of UFC 152
All eyes will be on Jon Jones in the wake of the debacle that canceled last month’s UFC 151. The event that never was will serve as a lesson to the MMA faithful that a new precedent has been set. Fans inside the Air Canada Centre will reap the benefits and witness the genesis of one division while another division could be knocked into complete disarray.
-Light Heavyweight Championship: Jon Jones (16-1) vs. Vitor Belfort (21-9): A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, Vitor Belfort was the most dominant fighter in Mixed Martial Arts. The Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt is gifted with incredible hand speed and excellent boxing. To the dismay of some and the adulation of others, Jon Jones currently wears that mantel of most dominant fighter. The scary thing about Jones is that he’s still improving. He has a reach like no other and uses it to maximum efficiency with uncanny athleticism.
I think it is important to note the only reason Vitor Belfort is getting a light heavyweight title shot is because he’s the most marketable person they could get to take the fight on four weeks’ notice. The Brazilian has spent the last five years competing in the middleweight division. He had a cup a coffee as light heavyweight champion in 2004 but his win over Randy Couture was the fluke of all flukes and he lost the belt seven months later in a shutout. When Belfort is on his game, there is no one who is more dangerous. Make no mistake about, if he catches Jones on the chin, that’s a wrap folks.
Jon Jones wins fights in such a dominating fashion that it looks too easy for the Nike clad superstar. All lanky fighters who came before him never used their reach to set up strikes and takedowns. Jones is the first and the master of this approach and it is a riddle no one has come close to solving. I believe this is what bothers people about Jones because it’s easier to appreciate someone’s efforts and success when there is struggle involved. Jones trains incredibly hard but we only see what occurs in the Octagon. There is more to “Bones” than his length as his striking game is the definition of a mixed martial arts fight. No one mixes up their strikes better than the champion.
Belfort often loses to the best of the best and in Jones he is fighting a guy who is on track to be the greatest of all time. He needs to make Jones extremely uncomfortable from the opening bell and can’t allow him to find his range. Belfort might be able to catch Jones with his trademark flurry of punches, but the champion just has more tools in the shed and will dictate where the fight takes place leading to a finish in the early rounds.
The Pick: Jon Jones in the 2nd Round TKO via ground and pound
-Flyweight Championship: Joseph Benavidez (16-2) vs. Demetrious Johnson (15-2-1): Pending any judging fiasco like the B.J. Penn vs. Caol Uno fight back in 2003, we will witness the crowning of the inaugural champion at 125 lbs. It seems like just yesterday that the UFC only had four weight classes. The sport has come a long way and this is the perfect fight to showcase that to the masses. This was scheduled to be the main event and is now co-main event due to the cancelation of UFC 151. Jones vs. Belfort sold the show but the flyweights may very well steal it.
I don’t see a finish happening in this fight because both fighters are way too talented. It will be an exciting five rounds where both will be aggressive in implementing their game plan. On the feet, Benavidez is the more powerful while Johnson is the more accurate. On the ground, they both have a great submission game off their back but Benavidez is the stronger wrestler. In the cardio department, Benavidez can go all day while Johnson can go longer than most. In order for Johnson to win he needs to mix it up in every aspect of the fight for the entire 25 minutes. In order for Benavidez to win he needs to use his strength advantage to dictate the pace.
I believe that Demetrious Johnson will be the UFC Flyweight champion. It just won’t happen on Saturday night. Johnson improves immensely with every fight but Joseph Benavidez is firing on all cylinders right now and nothing seems to be slowing him down.
The Pick: Joseph Benavidez via unanimous decision
-Michael Bisping (22-4) vs. Brian Stann (12-4): The is the UFC’s reenactment of the revolutionary war as the loud mouth British red coat in Bisping looks to topple the united states marine and American hero in Stann. Bisping is a better technical striker but Stann hits a lot harder. The key to this fight may lay in their encounters with Chael Sonnen who is the best wrestler in the middleweight division. Stann was taken down at will while Bisping kept Sonnen at bay for the majority of their fight and wound up on the losing end of a decision that many felt should have gone his way.
They will both aim for the knockout, but you have to wonder if both of them feel they have a leg up in the wrestling department. Stann has evolved from a simple brawler and left Gregg Jackson’s camp and has placed paramount focus on his wrestling for this camp. While this is a pick’em and Bisping’s pitter-patter combination approach will frustrate Stann, causing him to shoot for a double leg which will most likely be stuff. The cocky Brit will rinse a repeat en route to a decision.
The Pick: Michael Bisping via unanimous decision
-Matt Hamill (10-4) vs. Roger Hollett (13-0): This will be Hamill’s first fight out of retirement so all of his nagging injuries should be healed. Hamill’s wrestling will provide problems for almost anyone but I see Hollett, who is making his UFC debut, using his wide array of skills to finish the Ultimate Fighter alumni late in the bout.
The Pick: Roger Hollett via 3rd round stoppage due to strikes
-Cub Swanson (17-5) vs. Charles Oliveria (16-2): Cub Swanson only loses to the elite of the elite. Oliveria is an impressive fighter for sure, but this will be the test to see whether or not he can swim in the deep and of the division. Swanson has shown vast improvement since the WEC merged with the UFC and a strategic game plan will earn him the win.
The Pick: Cub Swanson by split decision