Saturday, September 22, 2012

UFC 152 Preview: Two titles, one very messy situation

After weeks of being made out to be the UFC's biggest pariah, Jon "Bones" Jones will finally get the chance to do his talking in the cage.

He takes on former UFC World Light Heavyweight Champion Vitor Belfort in a fight that is now upstaging what should have been the biggest night in flyweight history.

Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson will square off for the first ever UFC World Flyweight Championship. And I won't lie: I'm more excited for that than Jones-Belfort.

Benavidez was a legitimate threat for the WEC and UFC bantamweight title. He's only lost twice, both times to UFC World Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz, and one of those decisions was highly debatable.

Needless to say, he's a big deal, and as dominant as he looked against Shooto's champion, I'd be very concerned about having to face him.

Johnson is no slouch, though. He also only has two losses, one to Cruz, and is coming off of two fights in the division against former Tachi Palace champion Ian McCall. (I still say he should have lost the first fight, not drawn, though.)

This should be a great stand-up affair, as both have explosive striking skills. However, both of their wrestling games need to be taken into account, and Benavidez even has a Submission of the Night mark on his record.

Overall, I think that Benavidez is a slightly better fighter, and I will take Benavidez to win by decision.

In the "main event," if Jones doesn't win, he should be ashamed of himself. He's had a full camp where Vitor hasn't; he's been fighting in a weight class Vitor hasn't in years; and he's even had three weeks to adjust his strategy from one older fighter (Dan Henderson) to another in Belfort.

That said, Belfort must not be taken lightly. He has a black belt from Carlson Gracie (who, for the record, taught my BJJ instructor) and has an excellent boxing game to complement it. A veteran and a former champ, Belfort has the ability to put it together for one night and make this a memorable fight.

However, I am not one to pick that big of an upset. Jones' reach is unreal and his limbs give him the ability to create openings most wouldn't have. I have Jones by KO 2.

Middleweight Bout: Michael Bisping v. Brian Stann

Both men need this fight to stay relevant in the middleweight title picture, and honestly, I'd love to see either get up to that elite level.

Stann gained his mixed game from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, where he is a black belt, but he also has a blue belt in BJJ. Bisping is very much a stand-up fighter, but he is far more apt at any single style.

More importantly, Bisping has an air of desparation about him that really makes it hard to pick against him. It's a tough call, but I will give Bisping the decision.

Rest of the Main Card

Light Heavyweights: Matt Hamill v. Roger Hollett - Welcome back Hamill! Enjoy your squash. Hamill by KO 1

146.2-pound Catchweight: Cub Swanson v. Charles Oliviera - Oliviera missed weight, which is why this is a catchweight. I'll take Swanson's motivation here to win by decision.

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