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UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort Aftermath

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski | US Press Wire)

By Elias Cepeda

 

Only time will tell if Jon Jones was correct in saying that if he put in a great performance at UFC 152, fans would forgive him for turning down Chael Sonnen as a last-minute replacement to the never-was UFC 151. He certainly did put in a great performance in defending his UFC light heavyweight championship Saturday night against Vitor Belfort.

Other than a tight arm bar attempt that Belfort snapped on from his guard early in the first round that looked to very nearly win the fight for the 10-1 underdog, Jones dominated the fight up through a fourth round Americana submission that earned him the win. Jones didn’t spend much time messing around on the feet before going for and scoring a take down in the first round.

After he withstood his arm being hyper extended and freed himself from Belfort’s hold, Jones went about methodically tagging the Brazilian with short elbows from inside his full guard, opening up a cut over The Phenom‘s right eye that bled for the rest of the fight.

When they were on their feet, Jones kept his distance, landing with front leg side kicks to Belfort. Vitor’s best chance at winning this fight always seemed to be if he could manage to unload his fast hands in the type of flurry that smoked Wanderlei Silva over a decade ago, or knocked out Rich Franklin and Yoshihiro Akiyama more recently.

Belfort landed some good single shots, including a couple head kicks, but he was never able to pull the trigger on combinations that could have possibly backed Jones up or hurt him. Belfort mostly let Jones walk him backwards before getting taken down, as he did years ago in his second fight against Randy Couture, without making the champion pay for trying to get inside.

A beautiful front leg side kick to the ribs from Jones in the third pretty much put the nail in the fight’s coffin for Belfort. The kick dropped the former champ and from there on out, he went to his comfort zone of the guard in order to try and catch breathers, even though strategically, it seemed suspect.

One can’t really blame Belfort for making the poor choice of pulling guard after he got hurt from the body kick. We don’t know exactly how injured he got from it, and people do strange things when they’re hurt. He took a beating from his guard after that but he hung tough until Jones passed and locked on the shoulder lock from the cross-side position.

However, it was a bit disappointing to see him not try to employ the best strategy off of his back before the body shot. Sure, Belfort went for and nearly got an arm bar off the bat. After getting taken down early in the fight, it might have made sense for the Jiu Jitsu black belt to shoot up an arm bar on Jones. They were still relatively dry since it was early in the fight, and why not give Jones his first real submission test of his career?

But after that failed, Belfort would have been best served trying with all his might to get up to his feet every time he was put on his back. Instead, he played an old school Brazilian Jiu Jitsu closed guard game, for the most part.

Belfort didn’t try to scramble back to his feet against his larger wrestler of an opponent, choosing to look for submissions from his guard. In that guard, Belfort didn’t try to control Jones’ posture much, either. He instead played a double wrist control game that just got him elbowed over and again for his trouble.

Before guys like Chuck Liddell paved the way with cage walking, having being on your back against the cage while fighting a wrestler was a death sentence. These days, however, many downed fighters search out the cage so that they can get, first, to their elbows, then to their hands, squat up, stagger their stance to defend another take down, and then circle away from their cage once on their feet.

There’s no guarantee that Belfort would have been able to successfully get back to his feet if he tried against Jones, but he sure needed to try to have a chance to win the fight. Belfort has never used the best game plans throughout his still-storied career, but Jones is nothing if not cerebral and calculating as a fighter.

You can look at his tactic of trying to take away Belfort’s best chance of winning – his hands – by using his reach until he quickly went for take downs as micro evidence. You can also look at his decision to not fight Sonnen when Henderson pulled out of UFC 151, and instead wait four weeks to fight Belfort, as an example of Jones’ intelligence.

Hate him if you still want for not taking a new opponent on what was essentially three days’ notice, or for supposedly taking money out of the pockets of other fighters. Hell, maybe his recent apparent conversion to the Amish faith has you a bit perplexed.

But what you have to admit is that Jones has always done exactly what he’s supposed to as a fighter – win and win convincingly, and after the dust has settled, he’s still the light heavyweight champion, richer for securing a win bonus and submission of the night award, and for not having spoiled his new Nike contract with a loss out of the gates.

Jones may not be the most self aware kid, yet, and he can sound sanctimonious. But he told us straight out that he was making the decision he thought best for his career, to allow him to continue to provide for his family, when he turned down Sonnen for UFC 151, and there’s no way now to say that he didn’t make the right move.

Take away the fact that it isn’t smart for any world-class fighter to switch opponents on just days’ notice, and we still have the fact that Sonnen was a much more dangerous fighter for Jones to face, with not half the credibility of Belfort.

Sonnen is bigger than Belfort and actually had the wrestling to put Jones on his back and test him there, where he never really has been before. Sonnen is also coming off of a loss and has never been a champion. Belfort was a former two-time champion and future hall of famer that was riding a win streak and is also known for an exciting style.

Other than the arm bar in the first, Jones was able to beat Belfort on cruise control, something that would have been a lot less likely against Sonnen, who has shown he is willing to forge ahead into danger just to give his superb wrestling a chance to win him fights. Love Jones or hate him, but he’s the champion for good reason.

Deal with it.

Mini Mighty Men

Demetrious Johnson gets better with each fight. It wasn’t too long ago that he was awarded a gift decision against Miguel Torres before getting dominated by Dominick Cruz in their 135 pound title fight, or that long ago since he drew with Ian McCall in a fight faded in at the end.

But now Johnson is the first ever UFC Flyweight champion and it is because he is undoubtedly the best in the world at 125 pounds. He earned a split decision win over Joseph Benavidez Saturday night that was competitive but not as close as the judges saw it.

Joe B was the favorite coming into the fight, in some ways for good reason, but Johnson showed up at his best, was slicker on the feet, had better wrestling time and got stronger as the fight wore on, dominating the fifth round before being awarded the championship belt. Johnson cut angles on his feet masterfully, often getting out of the way of Benavidez’ wild but powerful striking and leaving him punching air.

While Benavidez mostly shot for take downs from far away without setting them up very well with strikes, Johnson timed his shots for when Joe was swinging for the fences. Once that happened, Mighty Mouse would change levels, get his hips in deep on Benavidez, catching him off guard, and dumping him to the ground.

I think the official take down tally was Johnson, 5, Benavidez, 0. Even without his sharper striking and dominant positions earned, that would have gone a long way in the judges eyes for Johnson. Benavidez shouldn’t fall that fall down in the rankings with his effort.

He himself landed some good shots on the feet and secured dominant positions at times on the ground, notably a guillotine choke attempt from the mount early in the fight. Perhaps he and McCall can each get tune-up fights before fighting one another for another shot at Johnson.

Whoever you scored the Flyweight title fight for, you’d have to be an idiot to not appreciate the technique, speed, perpetual motion and willingness to mix it up that both fighters showed. Evidently, Toronto MMA fans in attendance at UFC 152 are idiot.

The crowd inexplicably booed at multiple points during the fight between Johnson and Benavidez. We don’t get it.

Maybe it was their small size. If so, here’s some truth for those fans and any other flyweight haters that may be reading now – If you don’t enjoy watching the lighter weight classes in fighting it isn’t because they’re not exciting, its because you don’t like that those tiny guys could kick your ass.

But hey, to each their own. For those that don’t like watching elite MMA we know of a certain just-announced boxing extravaganza happening later this year that might be more your speed.

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Ricardo Guitardo- September 24, 2012 at 11:57 am
I don't know why jones is being such a pussy bitch. He seems to do well against guys that are smaller than him. Why did he bitch out over sonnen? Even with his new greg jackson cautious bitch-style.
ArmFarmer- September 24, 2012 at 10:26 am
I forgot a few big ones.. He'd also rather let an event get canceled, and piss off his fellow fighters that aren't getting paid.
ArmFarmer- September 24, 2012 at 10:25 am
Jones himself obviously disagrees with you guys. These are the things Jones would rather do than fight Chael Sonnen: Piss off his employers, piss off the fans, fight Vitor Belfort, destroy his image and reputation. That fact doesn't really line up with "Chael has no chance, chael can't take him down, chael isn't a top fighter"
BaghdadBob- September 24, 2012 at 9:47 am
There's no way in hell Chael would takedown Jones. Why is this even being discussed?
knucklesamitch- September 24, 2012 at 5:12 am
Nippletwist, you're delusional, I think you better go back and watch the first Silva fight with Chael, he most definitely damaged him. Nice revisionist history though, good job bro!
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:05 am
Octopius Cephalopeda
Nippletwist- September 24, 2012 at 12:57 am
actually rich franklin would also whoop chaels ass at 185 so, no, dudes not even top 5 in his division.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:05 am
Sup bro, twisted them shits into cauliflower nerps yet?
Nippletwist- September 24, 2012 at 12:53 am
chael lost to anderson twice he looked like all three stooges in his last fight fucking spinning around falling down and getting his ass whooped. chael really lost against bisping, that was an awful decision. chael would get housed against belfort of weidman, he's like barely a top 5 middleweight. he did zero damage in those rounds against anderson he just sat on top of him. jon jones is a huge guy with a wrestling base, hes already fought bigger better wrestlers and more dangerous all around guys than chael. theres nothing to support that chael would have any shot at taking jon down or keeping him there, that's just a dumb thing to think, but it's okay i forgive your stupidity.
Buster Hyman- September 24, 2012 at 12:50 am
And nipple twist ... Try this; take your hands, put then wayyy up above your head, ball them into fists, and then slam them down into your own dick.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:16 am
That's some old school Hanzo the Razor shit, bro.
Buster Hyman- September 24, 2012 at 12:49 am
When I hear good game planners I hear PUSSYYYYY I don't even like Belford but fuck your game plan fag boy fight the motherfucker I know it's smart to play to your strengths and avoid the danger but stiill fight like a bad ass against a huge underdog and by huge I mean way smaller you pusscunt
Pen Fifteen- September 24, 2012 at 12:32 am
Nippletwist, you fucking idiot. Chael has taken more rounds off of Anderson Silva than the rest of the world combined over the dude's past 10 fights. How many seconds did Vitor last before Silva front kicked him into Bolivian?

So, sucking Jon Jones' dick or shitting on Chael: if you insist on being such a suckass pussy, go with one or the other.
Nippletwist- September 24, 2012 at 12:59 am
how about you stop sucking chaels dick and shitting on jones. chael deserves to get shit on and jones deserves praise.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:15 am
It's true, Jones is a dick but he's pretty competent. Shael's
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:20 am
I had a mini-seizure and interrupted myself. Chael's a gum-flappin 27-12-1 puffed-up TRT abuser who is quite familiar with losing especially when he isn't abusing PED's.

As much as I hate to agree with da 'nips.
Nippletwist- September 23, 2012 at 11:38 pm
you really think chael could take down jones? jones is so much bigger and stronger, has a wrestling base, and has like a foot of range. rashad couldnt take jon down and hes a larger better wrestler than chael. look at sonnens fight with bisping, chaels really not an elite fighter, not on the level of belfort at all. vitor is definitely more dangerous than chael for anyone. mad props to vitor, he almost won in the first round, sonnen wouldnt have even made it out of the first.
Qlay- September 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm
"Toronto MMA fans are idiot"

So we get a lesson in irony, and aloof comments like "Deal with it" and "small guys can beat you up". I think Elias is having a bad hair day.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:23 am
Toronto fans aren't idiots, they're just Canadian. They made a nation of 34 million people out of two thousand Scots and angry French people with a couple of East Indians and Asians to run the convenience stores. Cut them some slack, it's not their fault their family tree doesn't branch.
JayJitsu310- September 23, 2012 at 7:16 pm
You guys (CP) should start a reader photo thread like they did at Subfighter a few years ago, it would be interesting to see what some of these lames on here look like, especially the ones who talk a lot of shit.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:23 am
You put the lame in flame.
Maine Blazer- September 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm
I stopped after 'A beautiful front leg side kick to the ribs'
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:24 am
Jon Jones is a centaur, what's wrong with that?

"Look at my hooves, look at my hooves!"
Mr_Misanthropy- September 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm
All in all I thought it was a good night of fights. There were a couple of plodding decisions on the main card but I expected them from the matchups. I really wasn't shocked by anything. Cub Swanson seems like he's on fire lately, I was rooting for Dunham but Grant definitely outclessed him (although it was close. I agree with others that don't think Johnson will be finishing fights any time soon but he also is very difficult to finish. Jon Jones seems pretty unstoppable but I agree that he seems to be getting a bit more conservative. I will place the blame for that solely on the G. Jackson Fight Not To Lose Self Defense System. I like watching Jones fight but it would have been pretty crazy if Belfort could have finished that armbar. Magalhaes looked sharp.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:31 am
You're a fuckin' idiot. Yeah I'm talkin to you.

*Looks in mirror*

You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking... you talking to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you're talking to? Oh yeah? OK.
holeeball- September 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm
MMA guy 1: 'Sonnen bigger threat than Belfort because bigger and wrestler'.

MMA guy 2'Belfort bigger threat because KO power that Sonnen lacks'.

MMA guy 1&2: JJ dick sure is yummy.

Whatever guys, just keep entertaining me.
holeeball- September 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm
Midget porn excites me much more than midget fighting.

JJ should stop being a sissy freak and move to his natural weight class. Then we'll see what's what.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:34 am
Midget porn scares the shit out of me. I was at a party one time where you had to smoke in the garage and the dude that was throwing the party put midget porn on a TV in there to fuck with people. Not cool bro, not cool.
Dizzylittlelord- September 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm
might mouse was really impressive with his movement and speed etc, i really dont think hes going to finish anyone though so as he gets older he's really going to have to change his game
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:35 am
Might Mouse needs to be less modest.
RSparrow- September 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm
Anyone else losing a little UFC mojo or am I just hungover?
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:35 am
You probably didn't drink enough.
Flying Wristlock- September 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm
They were probably just booing the flyweights' parents for letting them stay out so late.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:36 am
Fucking kids these days, with their Spacebook and Myface and that YouTV and all that bull shit. Jee-sus.
BHOP- September 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm
"If you don’t enjoy watching the lighter weight classes in fighting it isn’t because they’re not exciting, its because you don’t like that those tiny guys could kick your ass."

Wow butthurt much? It isn't that they aren't trading punches, it's that its boring to watch a bunch of midgets throw pillow punches at each other and doing no real significant damage to one another. If you like watching a highly technical fight, good for you, but most people want to watch big ass dudes knocking the shit out of each other. Instead of being a passive aggressive bitch about it you could have easily just stopped with "to each their own" but you just had to add a little bit of cocksuckery at the end there didn't you?
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:38 am
Alice Coopeda loves the cock-suckery. What happens in Toronto stays in Toronto.
RearNakedSpoon- September 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm
Two kids darting around the cage like some hyperactive insects can only be entertaining for so long. The only entertaining part of the fight was during grappling exchanges, more of that and submission finishes would do wonders for the weight class. Or remove the minute rest between rounds and just let them keep going.

I couldn't help but think that Silva fancies his chances against Jones now. Silva could have easily won that fight.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:40 am
I think we need to give them razors on their heels like in a Mexican Cock Fight.
TheCanadian- September 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm
They were booing the division, not the fight itself.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:40 am
Eh?
angry little feet- September 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm
The Flyweight title fight was the highlight of the night for me.Mighty mouse continues to impress me every time out. I cannot understand how people were booing. Christ, you would've thought it was in Philly where even Santa Claus gets booed.
Mr_Misanthropy- September 24, 2012 at 1:41 am
Them midget's got hypersonic Angry Little Feet.
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