UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones may not be liked, but he deserves to be respected. Jones subbed Vitor Belfort in a UFC 152 main-event that was an even bigger mismatch than Vegas oddsmakers handicapped.
Jones immediately went for a takedown. Belfort caught Jones in an arm bar at around 3:30 minutes into the first round and the place went nuts. He came very close to a submission before releasing it. Joe Rogan thought that Jones’ arm was hyper extended from the arm bar. Jones confirmed in the post fight interview that his elbow did pop. Needless to say, the fans went nuts. Jones from the top position started dropping elbows which opened up Belfort badly. Jones repeatedly went back to elbows as Vitor struggled for wrist control. Belfort’s eye was a mess by the end of the round. Belfort held on as the round closed.
Jones connected with a side kick to the body and Belfort dropped. Belfort told Joe Rogan after the fight that he had an injury to the ribs in training. Jones swarmed in on top. Belfort again was looking for an arm bar here. Jones couldn’t finish and they stood back up. Belfort finally swarmed in with strikes in this round. Belfort tried to close the distance. They tied up. Belfort again pulled guard. Fans started booing at this point. Other than the brief swam Vitor hadn’t done much at all past that arm bar attempt early in the fight. Jones dropped some short elbows and the round closed.
The two opened up with a mild exchange and Belfort pulled guard. Jones rained down with elbows and caught Belfort in an Americana. Belfort tapped and the disappointing main-event was over.
The champion came into UFC 152 as a -975 favorite on some sports books to Belfort’s +675. For that reason, the result shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. At the same time, you have to give Jones the credit he deserved for making a statement and staying focused at arguably the most chaotic time in his short career. Other than the arm bar he was never in any real trouble and dominated.
You have to wonder if all of the negativity and criticism that Jones’ endured the last few weeks was a motivator. It would have been easy for Jones to play down to his competition and show up over confident. Instead, Jones should great maturity for a 24-year old champion and dismantled his challenger with ease. According to Mike Goldberg in what had to be worst timed comment of the night, Jones is a “role model.” Too soon Mike, too soon.
It is tough to say where Bones Jones goes from here. Dan Henderson was promised the title shot but had to pull out of UFC 151 due to injury. Lyoto Machida was also promised a title shot but blew that by not accepting the fight for UFC 152. Dana White has talked of a possible Machida vs. Hendo title eliminator fight. That would leave Jones dormant for at least six-months. If Henderson is ready to return in December, I say you go with Henderson vs. Jones for December or January. If he’s not, the UFC may just have to swallow their pride and give the shot to Machida. I understand the point Dana is trying to make, but is it worth making a point at the expense of keeping your champion off of shows?
Watching this fight I can absolutely see why people hate Jon Jones. For one, his entrance into the arena trying to get people to clap with him that were booing was just obnoxious. Two, the way he started off the fight on the ground was an extreme sign of arrogance. Three and most importantly, his fights aren’t that exciting. Quite honestly I don’t think any of Jones’ fights since he won the title have been that fun or exciting. They are all one-sided and he is more of a technician that picks his opponents apart slowly as opposed to engaging in a striking contest. The book on Jones is out. He is a dominant fighter whose fights never live up to the hype. That is going to be a hard fighter to sell on pay per view moving ahead.
One interesting scenario would be a Jones vs. Silva Super Fight. Silva is obsessed with fighting Georges St-Pierre but GSP doesn’t seem as interested. While Silva and Jones have said no to fighting each other in the past, both appear a tad more open to it lately. I would love to see the UFC go with GSP-Diaz/Condit 2, Machida-Henderson, and Silva-Jones. I doubt that is the road that will be taken, but that appears to be the biggest win for everyone.
Like him or not Jon Jones is the UFC champion and that probably isn’t going to change any time soon. At some point fans will forgive if Jones continues his streak of dominance. Unfortunately for Jones that probably won’t be for awhile.
In other fight news, Michael Bisping defeated Brian Stann. The story for most of the opening round was Bisping working for a takedown and Stann preventing it. It was a fairly even opening round until Brian Stann tagged Michael Bisping with a solid right hand as the first round closed. Bisping was rocked and probably saved by the bell. Bisping was very wobbly when he sat down between the first and second rounds. Bisping finally got the takedown in round 2 as well as another as the round closed. Bisping was the dominate fighter in this round and appeared to recover well. Bisping got an early takedown in the third. Bisping also continued to pick Stann apart with his jab, which incidentally was great all night. The rest of the round saw Bisping dominate the pace while Stann really didn’t have a whole lot. It was an impressive performance by Bisping. I can’t say the same for Stann. With Anderson Silva not set to defend the middleweight title for awhile, I’d presume that Bisping vs. Chris Weidman-Tim Boetsch fight in a title eliminator fight.
Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort
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Seth Baczynski defeated Simeon Thoresen via first-round KO
Mitch Gagnon defeated Walel Watson via submission
Kyle Noke defeated Charlie Brenneman via first-round TKO