Jones (top) submitted Vitor Belfort. | Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Getty
For an instant, it appeared as though Vitor
might get the best of Jon Jones
Then reality set in.
Jones (17-1, 11-1 UFC) retained his light heavyweight crown in the
152 headliner, as he submitted “The Phenom” with a fourth-round
keylock on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. His arm
bent at a grotesque angle, Belfort tapped out 54 seconds into round
four, a victim to submission for just the second time in his long
and storied professional career.
Against an undersized light heavyweight, Jones was far from
flawless. Belfort attacked from his back after succumbing to a
first-round takedown and trapped the champion in a tight armbar.
Jones escaped after a brief struggle but remained in visible pain
in the immediate aftermath of the fight.
“He got that armbar in every way, shape and form,” he said. “I’ve
never had my arm pop like that before. I felt it, but I worked too
hard to give up. I was honestly waiting for it to break, but I
wasn’t going to tap out. It just felt numb.”
Jones admitted it affected his arm throughout the bout.
“My brain is trained to throw it, but it definitely didn’t feel
powerful at all,” he said. “It was just a really numb feeling, so
I’ll have to see what is wrong with it.”
Belfort (21-10, 10-6 UFC) knew a golden opportunity had come and
“It was cracking and popping,” he said, “but he was tough.”
Once Jones freed himself, he settled into Belfort’s guard and
hammered away at the Brazilian with his trademark elbow strikes
from top position. It was not long before the blood was flowing.
Belfort’s situation did not improve. Jones kept him contained on
the feet -- he even dropped him with a side kick to the solar
plexus in the third round -- and battered him on the ground.
Belfort elected to pull guard on a number of occasions, but the
tactic did not serve him well. Less than a minute into the fourth
round, Jones jumped into a topside crucifix, isolated the
challenger’s arm and finished the fight with the keylock. Belfort
had not been submitted since Alistair
Overeem put him away with a guillotine choke more than seven
years ago in Pride Fighting Championships.
“I was trying to work my jiu-jitsu, but I couldn’t catch my
breath,” Belfort said. “He was long and moved his pace pretty well,
so that’s why he’s the champion.”
Hedges/Zuffa LLC/UFC via Getty
Johnson (above) became the first.
Split Verdict Gives Johnson Flyweight Gold
threw and landed more kicks and punches, mixed in five
takedowns and captured a split decision over Joseph
in the co-main event to become the first flyweight
champion in UFC history.
Two of the three judges, Jeff Blatnick and Doug Crosby, scored it
for Johnson (16-2-1, 4-1-1 UFC) by 48-47 and 49-46 counts; a third,
Richard Bertrand, saw it 48-47 for Benavidez (16-3, 3-1 UFC).
“I was a little shocked [that it was a split decision],” Johnson
said. “I felt that on the standup I got him there. I took him down
a lot more. He didn’t get me down once. I controlled him and had
his back. The judges are doing their jobs, and I’m doing mine,
which is to fight.”
The two flyweights engaged one another for the full 25 minutes in a
dazzling display of skill, speed and technique. Benavidez made his
most significant moves in rounds two and four, nearly finishing it
in the fourth, where he staggered Johnson with a right hand and
jumped into a mounted guillotine choke. “Mighty Mouse” struggled to
free himself from the hold and was ultimately successful,
threatening Benavidez with a leg lock before returning to his
Johnson -- who opened a cut near his foe’s left eye with a stout
right hand in the third round -- answered the championship call in
the fifth, as he delivered a pair of takedowns, countered
beautifully and finished with a flourish.
“Joseph is a great competitor,” Johnson said. “I train hard, and I
dedicate my life to this sport. It means the world. I still have to
prove a lot of things. It’s like I said. If I become a champion,
the same thing is going to happen. I’m going to go home and rest,
get back in the gym and get ready for the next battle.”
Bisping Denies Stann, Eyes Title Shot
strengthened his case for a title shot at 185 pounds,
as he weathered a harrowing encounter with Brian
’s right hand and outdueled the Marine en route to a
unanimous decision in their high-stakes middleweight showdown. All
three judges sided with Bisping (23-4, 13-4 UFC) by identical 29-28
counts, giving the 33-year-old Brit his fifth win in six
Bisping’s 13 Octagon victories tie him with Jon Fitch for
10th on the promotion’s all-time list.
Stann (12-5, 6-4 UFC) had his chance late in the first round, when
he clobbered “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner with a searing
right hand. Bisping found himself on rubbery legs in a blink, but
he survived and escaped to new life in the second round. There,
Bisping took control with accurate, high-volume punching. He also
exploited Stann’s most glaring deficiency -- takedown defense -- as
he grounded the American twice in each of the final two frames.
“I always try to push a fast pace,” Bisping said. “I was never a
particularly gifted athlete. I just want this so bad, and I train
so hard. Ask any of my coaches. No one trains as hard as me.
Listen, I’m not the most talented person in the world, but I’m
hungry and I want it. That overpowers anything. My desire to be the
world champion is not going away. To the owners of the
organization: come on, hook a brother up.”
Hamill Returns to Decision Hollett
Bello/Zuffa LLC/UFC via Getty
Hamill (left) did enough to win.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 alum Matt Hamill
returned from a year-long retirement to defeat
Bellator Fighting Championships
in a featured matchup at 205 pounds. All three cageside
judges scored it for Hamill (11-4, 10-4 UFC): 29-28, 30-27 and
Hamill did his best work in rounds one and three, as he took down
the Canadian repeatedly and racked up the points with punches. The
35-year-old Ohioan held fatigue at bay down the stretch, leaning
heavily on his wrestling chops and suffocating top game. Hollett
(13-4, 0-1 UFC) entered his promotional debut on a five-fight
winning streak and left it a defeated man.
Surging Swanson KOs Oliveira
Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts
standout Cub Swanson
knocked out Charles
with a looping overhand right in the first round of
their featherweight showcase. Swanson (18-5, 3-1 UFC) sealed it
2:40 into round one, as he won for the third time in as many
Oliveira (16-3, 4-3 UFC) struck for a takedown inside the first
minute but failed to capitalize. Once he returned to his feet,
Swanson landed a crippling left hook to the body and, not long
after, delivered the fight-ending blow. Oliveira remained upright
for a brief moment before crumpling to the canvas in a bizarre
“He was tough. He threw me off for a little bit, and it took me a
minute to get my rhythm,” Swanson said. “My coaches had a lot of
confidence in my power, and they told me that if I landed one big
punch, he was going down for sure. I dipped down to make him think
I was going to the body again, and then he dropped his guard. I
went up top and hit him with that one to the eye.”More UFC 152 »
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UFC 152 Play-by-Play
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