Date:Saturday, September 22/8pm ET
Venue:Air Canada Centre – Toronto
By Evergreen of Predictem.com
It is no surprise that fighters get hurt during training but the schedule makers at the UFC have to feel a little snake bit after the summer they have had.Several injuries to key fighters over the past months have drastically re-shaped pay-per-view fight cards and the same is true for the upcoming UFC 152.Jon Bones Jones will defend his Light Heavyweight Title as intended but he will face off with Vitor Belfort who replaced the injured Dan Henderson.To make matters worse, Dana White has had to work around Lyoto Machidas refusal to face Jones on short notice and then Jones refusal to fight Chael Sonnen, who would have been making the jump to 205.White has been more than willing to express his feelings about Jones after that decision but the fact remains that the current Light Heavyweight Champion is arguably the most exciting fighter in the UFC today and has dominated the division so thoroughly that an off the wall contender made its way into play.Jones is the heavy favorite but Belfort has seen and done just about everything in MMA, most of it before Jones was even out of high school, and has the proverbial punchers chance in this one.
The under card features some great action and Fight of the Night has a good chance of coming from the matchup between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Mighty Mouse Johnson.These two tangle in the finale of the four fighter tournament to name the UFCs first flyweight champion and this emerging division is action packed to say the least.Brian Stann squares off with Michael Bisping in another solid match with Bisping looking to continue his rise in the middleweight division and potentially earn a title shot with a win this weekend.
Jon Jones (16-1) v. Vitor Belfort (21-9)
Dan Henderson was a heavy underdog as so is Belfort with Bovada listing The Phenom at +475 with the Jones at -750.Belfort is a very good analog for Henderson as the Brazilian is very experienced in all aspects although Vitor is a more effective striker than Hendo.Belfort has stood with the best in the history of MMA and beat them on many occasions but hes likely up against the most dynamic striker he has ever faced who is also ten years his junior.For reference, Jones is obviously the top-ranked light heavy by Sherdog and Belfort is the #7 middleweight, not even appearing on the light heavyweight radar.This truly is a matchup of a veteran fighter with a ton of heart versus a superior athlete in his peak, basically Rocky IV without the cold war overtones and training montages.Belfort should be applauded for taking this fight and has a chance to tag Jones if he can get inside what will be about a ten inch reach advantage by the champ, but dont bet on it.Stats really dont apply to a guy that has faced the likes of Lidell, Couture, Ortiz and Anderson Silva so dont look for a metric to predict a Belfort win but if you think that Jones has gotten a little too big for his shoes and karma is ready to check him, it wouldnt be too crazy to lay a little action on Belfort just to see what happens.The most likely scenario plays out with Jones keeping Belfort too far outside to threaten and systematically picking him apart.Vitor will come in looking to shake it up at some point but Jones is too quick and will make him pay with the same type of aggressive striking that has used to defeat everyone he has stepped into the Octagon with.Remember, his loss came via DQ as he used some 12-to-6 elbows while dominating Matt Hamill.Look for a second round knockout with Jones retaining the title.
Joseph Benavidez (16-2-0) v. Demetrious Johnson (15-2-1)
You might not know a lot about any of the lighter weight divisions if you didnt follow WEC before the UFC absorbed it but do yourself a favor and check this fight out if you have any questions about what kind of show a couple of little guys can put on.Benavidez and Johnson will go at it to name the first 125 pound champ in UFC history after both advanced through a four fighter elimination tournament.Johnson needed two fights to qualify after his first fight with Ian McCall was called a draw but he prevailed in the second and Benavidez is here after a second round KO of Yashuhiro Urushitani.Both men are amazing athletes with tremendous speed and neither will have a problem pushing the pace for all five round should the fight go that far.Both have also lost to Dominick Cruz in Bantamweight Title fights but both also went the distance so they proved themselves worth in that regard.Flyweights arent known for their knockout power but rather a breakneck pace that eventually forces one fighter into a mistake.Johnson has won six fights by submission and Benavidez has eight such wins so look for both to work chokes if the fight goes to the clinch or to the ground.Its just about useless to try to predict what kind of fight we will see as the fighters are so evenly matched and their styles offset but it should be noted that Johnson is rated as the top fighter in the division and is underdog with a +225 listing to Benavidez -285.Thats enough of a value difference to take Demetrious in this 50/50 fight.
Michael Bisping (23-4) v. Brian Stann (12-4)
This is another potential fight of the night as these guys will go toe-to-toe in what should be a kickboxing clinic.Bisping is nipping at the upper reaches of the middleweight division and his only problem has come against fighters that have been better than him on paper.Michael has gone through everyone he should have beaten but struggled against Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen. By that measure, Bisping (-175 at Bovada) is looking at another win this weekend as he is the more talented fighter but he will have to face what amounts to a stronger mirror image of himself.Stann (+145) could use a win to get out of the middle of the division and certainly has the hands to do so.Bisping looked somewhat unbeatable early in his career but Dan Henderson put his chin in question and The Count has been tagged regularly since and that is something Stanns camp has surely focused on.Its almost unthinkable that Stann would take this to the mat and Bisping prefers a standup fight too, so someone is likely going down at some point.Bisping is a slightly more well-rounded fighter but I think Stann comes in with almost nothing to use and finds a way to clip Bisping.I see this going the distance with both guys having plenty of heart to go three rounds but Stann gets the split decision.