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UFC 152 Jones Vs. Belfort Predictions & Analysis

Well it seems like it’s been almost forever since we’ve seen a PPV from the world’s leading MMA promotion. The fallout from the cancellation of UFC 151 left many fans with a sour taste in their mouths and it will surely be interesting to see how many fans offer up their hard-earned dollars to check out UFC 152 on Pay Per View this weekend.

Headlined by the Light Heavyweight Title fight that nobody wanted to see with Jon Jones taking on Middleweight (yep, Middleweight) contender Vitor Belfort. The former headliners and now co-headlining bout features the inauguration of the UFC’s first ever Flyweight Champion as Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson scrap for Flyweight supremacy. The third feature bout features everyone’s favorite trash-talking Brit Michael Bisping taking on war-hero Brian Stann.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Kyle Noke vs. Charlie Brenneman

Kyle Noke is an Australian fighter, who was a cast-member on the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. Noke is a talented grappler who holds a notable distinction as being a former bodyguard for “The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin. Noke holds a career record of 19-6-1 and is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Camp. Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman is an American fighter from Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Brenneman is best known for winning the first season of the reality television show Pros vs. Joes. Brenneman holds a career record of 15-4 and trains out of the AMA Fight Club. Charlie Brenneman via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Mitch Gagnon vs. Walel Watson

Mitch Gagnon is a Canadian born fighter from Sudbury, Ontario. He holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the majority of his career victories have come via Submissions, mostly chokes. Gagnon is a member of the Team Shredder MMA team and holds a career record of 8-2. Walel “The Gazelle” Watson at 5’11” is the tallest Bantamweight fighter in the UFC and holds a reach advantage in every bout he enters. Watson is a member of the Team Hurricane Awesome Gym in San Diego, California. He holds a career record of 9-4. Mitch Gagnon via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Seth Baczynski vs. Simeon Thoresen

Seth “The Polish Pistola” Baczynski is an American fighter from Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a former cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter. The former Middleweight is a well-rounded fighter who has found new success in the UFC since switching his training camp to join Power MMA and Fitness in Arizona. He holds a career record of 16-6. Simeon “The Grin” Thoresen is a Norwegian fighter from Sandefjord, Norway. He is one of Europe’s top MMA prospects and is the fighting prodigy of notable European fighter Joachim Hansen. Thoresen trains with Hansen at his gym Hellboy MMA in Oslo, Norway and holds a career record of 17-2-1. Seth Baczynski via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Jimy Hettes vs. Marcus Brimage

Jimy “The Kid” Hettes is an American fighter from Kingston, Pennsylvania. He is a former child Judo prodigy who currently holds a brown belt in Judo and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Despite having black belt credentials, he is an absolute beast on the mat and his grappling skills are extremely dangerous. He holds a perfect career record of 10-0. Marcus “The Bama Beast” Brimage is an American fighter from Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is a former cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter who now trains with the American Top Team in Florida and his home gym of Spartan Fitness in Birmingham, Alabama. Jimy Hettes via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Sean Pierson vs. Lance Benoist

Sean “The Punisher” Pierson is a Canadian fighter and a former member of the Toronto Police Department. The 36-year-old still lives and trains in Toronto, so he should have a bit of home-field advantage for this fight. Pierson trains at the Grant Brothers MMA Gym in Toronto and holds a career record of 12-6. Lance Benoist is an American fighter from St. Louis, Missouri. Benoist is a capable grappler, but impressed in his UFC debut by using his kickboxing skills to outsrike UFC veteran Matt Riddle for a Decision victory. He holds a career record of 6-1. Lance Benoist via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: TJ Grant vs. Evan Dunham

TJ Grant is a Canadian fighter from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Grant was a journeyman fighter, who was mostly a gatekeeper in the Welterweight division, but has found new life since dropping to 155-pounds. The BJJ brown belt is 2-0 since making the cut to Lightweight, and holds a career record of 18-5. Evan “3D” Dunham is an American fighter from Eugene, Oregon. Dunham is a talented grappler with a black belt in BJJ. Before being derailed by a shady decision and a knockout loss to Melvin Guillard, Dunham was considered a top prospect at Lightweight. The member of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Nevada owns a career record of 13-2. Evan Dunham via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Igor Pokrajac vs. Vinny Magalhaes

Igor “The Duke” Pokrajac is a Croatian fighter from Zagreb, Croatia. He is a training partner of famed MMA Heavyweight Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Pokrajac is a decent striker who has strong takedowns to compliment his boxing skills. The member of Croatian Top Team holds a professional record of 25-8. Vinny Magalhaes is a Brazilian fighter and was the runner up on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Magalhaes is also a former M-1 Global Light Heavyweight Champion and is a BJJ Black Belt who is the head MMA instructor for the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a career record of 9-5-1. Vinny Magalhaes via Submission in Round Three

Main Card (Pay Per View): Featherweight Bout: Charles Oliveira vs. Cub Swanson

Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Oliveira is a talented grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Since joining the UFC he has relocated himself to Houston, Texas where he has founded his own gym Bronx’s Gold Team USA. Oliveira is a former Lightweight fighter, but after being outmuscled in fights with Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller, he decided to cut to the Featherweight division. Since making the drop he has fared well, notching two straight victories, both via first round submission. He holds a career record of 16-2 with 1 No Contest.

Cub Swanson is a highly entertaining fighter from Palm Springs, California. The former WEC fighter is highly entertaining and is always willing to throw hands. Swanson is a talented striker whose weakness has always been against talented wrestlers or grapplers who can exploit him on the ground. When striking however Swanson is nearly unmatched in the Featherweight division in punching power and fight stopping ability. Swanson holds a career record of 17-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Oliveira’s striking has looked suspect in a number of his previous UFC bouts, but he rarely overcommits and gets himself into trouble because of it. Keep in mind, in this bout every second he decides to test the waters in the striking game is a liability as Swanson could end the fight at any time. Swanson’s grappling game is slightly underrated, but not against Oliveira. His submissions are top notch and he has the wrestling ability to drag Swanson to the mat. If the Brazilian gets it to the ground it’s only a matter of time. Charles Oliveira via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Matt Hamill vs. Roger Hollett

Matt “The Hammer” Hamill is an American fighter from Loveland, Ohio. Hamill is an inspirational story as the former cast-member of the third season of The Ultimate Fighter is legally deaf. Despite that, he went on to become a three-time NCAA Division 3 National Champion in Wrestling. The 35-year-old is actually the only man to hold a victory over UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, although it was via Disqualification. Hamill uses his wrestling nearly exclusively in his bouts. His striking has improved, but takedowns and top control are still his bread and butter. Hamill actually retired for a while, before returning to the sport, this is his first fight back, so it will be interesting to see what kind of shape he’s in. He holds a career record of 10-4.

Roger “The Hulk” Hollett is a Canadian fighter from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Hollett’s father was a Canadian Boxing and Kickboxing Champion. He began training in those disciplines very early in his life while growing up with his father. He is now a member of Titans MMA Gym in Halifax. Hollett has fought for top promotions like Bellator Fighting Championships and MFC in Canada. Hollett has done well against weaker fighters in the past, but has struggled in his bouts against higher-level talent. He holds a career record of 13-3.

Analysis and Prediction: If this fight was a couple of years ago I would take Hamill in a heartbeat, now I’m not so sure. Hamill has the wrestling style that can give fighters like Hollett nightmares, but it will depend on what kind of shape he’s in. If Hamill gets tired; which has happened to him numerous times in the past, not to mention what it will be like after two years of retirement, he’s going to get obliterated on the feet. This fight could be a slow and sloppy affair, but we can always hope that someone gets KO’ed. I think it might be Hamill. Roger Hollett via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann

Michael “The Count” Bisping is an English fighter who is best known for winning the Light Heavyweight Division of The Ultimate Fighter 3. Bisping is a former Light Heavyweight Champion in two major British-based MMA promotions (Cage Rage and Cage Warriors.) Bisping is a tough, well-rounded fighter who regularly gets hated on for his loudmouth antics and bad-boy style. The fact remains that Bisping is a top talent at Middleweight who is a technically sound striker who has decent hand speed and good footwork (when he doesn’t circle into power punches.) Bisping is also a fairly capable grappler, which could be an important factor heading into this bout as Stann has looked less than impressive on the mat in his career thus far. Bisping holds a career record of 22-4.

Brian “The All-American” Stann is an American fighter from Scranton, Pennsylvania (although he was actually born on a military base in Tokyo, Japan.) Stann gets a lot of well-deserved credit for his past as a Silver Star winning US Marine, although at times it overshadows his ability as an MMA fighter. Stann is a black belt in MCMAP (American Military Self-Defense) and is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting. Stann is a strong striker who packs massive power in his hands and can knock out anyone willing to stand in front of him. He is also a fairly large and physically strong Middleweight, but he is a fairly weak wrestler, which is something that he will need to improve on as he moves up the ranks throughout his career. He holds a career record of 12-4.

Analysis and Prediction: Bisping is a fairly intelligent fighter, I’ll give him that. It’s probably going to be the most important factor heading into this bout. Bisping favors the striking game and he should, he’s quick and technically sound. However, Stann hits like a truck and he’s knocked out almost everyone at Middleweight who has decided to strike with him. Stann has looked incredibly helpless on his back, especially in his bout against Chael Sonnen. While Bisping isn’t known for his wrestling prowess, I would be surprised if he didn’t come right in and shoot for a takedown and look for chances to work his grappling skills from top control. If Stann can sprawl-and-brawl and keep the bout standing he has a chance to win, but I don’t think he can do it for enough of the fight and the Brit steals a decision. Michael Bisping via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Flyweight Championship Bout: Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson

Joseph “Joe-B-Wan Kenobi” Benavidez is an American fighter from San Antonio, Texas. In high school Benavidez won two state championships in football and also wrestled varsity for four years, once winning the New Mexico State Championships. Benavidez is now a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California. Benavidez is very well rounded fighter with excellent striking and strong wrestling. Benavidez has great hand speed and his footwork is excellent, he throws big power, especially for the 125-pound weight class, as was seen in his bout against Yasuhiro Urushitani. Benavidez holds a career record of 16-2, with his only two losses coming against UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz.

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is a tough fighter, who also recently failed in his bid at the Bantamweight title and Dominick Cruz before dropping to Flyweight. Johnson has gained some steam with back-to-back impressive performances against top-ranked Flyweight Ian McCall. Johnson is a member of the AMC Pankration Gym who is an accurate striker who also has excellent takedowns. In his bouts against McCall, Johnson at times struggled to control the distance and was crowded by McCall, if he lets this happen against Benavidez it will certainly cause problems, as Benavidez packs big power for a small fighter and throws his power well from in close. Johnson holds a career record of 15-2-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Johnson’s peek-a-boo style of striking is all-good against slower fighters, but he won’t be able to speed around against Benavidez. It’s also likely that Benavidez will score the more impressive shots on the feet, even if Johnson proves to be slightly more active. The other problem for Johnson is going to be the physicality of Benavidez, who has excellent takedowns and ground and pound skills. This should be a pretty close fight, but I think Benavidez is slightly better than Johnson in almost all areas of this fight where it matters. He takes a close but ultimately unanimous decision. Joseph Benavidez via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort

Jon “Bones” Jones is the reigning and defending UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Despite his seemingly non-existent Public Relations skills, he remains a top draw for the UFC and is one of the most dominant champions of all time. Jones has received a lot of flack and a lot of blame for the cancellation of UFC 151, which may or may not be deserved, I’m not getting into it in this post. Jones has only one career loss and it was a disqualification for illegal elbows in a bout that he was seconds away from winning anyways. Jones has lost only one round in his entire UFC career and has demolished nearly every fighter in his path. At 6’4” and with an 84.5-inch reach he is nearly impenetrable defensively. Jones is also very quick and athletic for a man of his size and was a former JUCO Wrestling Champion at Iowa Central Community College. Jones is a member of Greg Jackson’s MMA Camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is widely considered a top-3 Pound-for-Pound Fighter in the world. He holds a career record of 16-1.

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort is a Brazilian fighter and one of the pioneers of the sport of MMA. The 35-year-old from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil made his UFC debut all the way back in 1997 at UFC 12. Belfort is a talented striker with incredibly fast hand-speed, although his footwork has been somewhat sloppy at times. Belfort is a Black belt in Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but rarely uses those skills as he prefers to stand and trade with his opponents. Belfort has big power in his hands and can knock out anyone in the world if he lands cleanly on them. He recently made the switch to the Jaco Hybrid Training Center where he trains with the team known as the Blackzillians. He has been training for this bout with Rashad Evans (a former teammate of Jon Jones’) Belfort holds a career record of 21-9.

Analysis and Prediction: I certainly wasn’t a big fan of Jon Jones for declining to fight Chael Sonnen on only a few days notice, and to be honest I haven’t been a fan of his since his rise to the top. That said none of that takes away from his stature as a top fighter and one of the most dominant 205-champions of all time. His striking defense is excellent and he uses his length extremely well. He’s also a creative striker and an impressive grappler who game plans with his coaches extremely well. If you watch the old tapes of Belfort against guys like Randy Couture, Dan Henderson and Tito Ortiz, he doesn’t deal well with fighters who can muscle him against the cage, or control him in the clinch. That happens to be right in Jon Jones’ wheel-house and I would be very surprised if Jones’ game plan didn’t involve pressuring Belfort against the cage and working him to the mat, before working ground and pound and finding a submission.

Belfort has huge power and if he lands cleanly on Jones he can definitely knock him out. A puncher’s chance is all he has though. It’s also going to be extremely tough to navigate through Jones’ monstrous (10+ inches) reach advantage to get in and land those big shots. Belfort’s paths to victory are very limited and I honestly think his best chance is probably just to storm Jones out the gate hope to overwhelm him and go from there. The more likely outcome is that he comes out with a measured pace, allows Jones to feel out the distance and get comfortable. From there he works Belfort to the cage, drags him to the ground and eventually finds a submission. Jon Jones via Submission in Round Two

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