Facing the most adversity he’s dealt with in 12 career Octagon appearances, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones nonetheless refused to tap when Vitor Belfort locked up a lethal armbar, eventually wiggled out of the submission attempt and later executed a submission of his own to retain his light-heavyweight belt in the main event at UFC 152 in Toronto.
Jones defended his 205-pound strap for the fourth consecutive time since winning it from Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua at UFC 128. He forced Belfort to tap with an Americana in the fourth round, hooking up his backers as an enormous minus-900 favorite.
After the fight, Jones only clarified the obvious that his reign in the light heavyweight division was in serious danger. Jones told UFC analyst Joe Rogan, “Honestly, I was waiting for it to break. I was not going to tap out, but I've never felt that before. I heard it popping."
It remains unclear if the hyperextension to Jones’s arm will keep him out of action for a significant period of time, but his next opponent will most likely be 42-year-old Dan Henderson, who was originally going to face Jones at UFC 151 before he sustained a knee injury.
Other than a shaky Round 1 in a win over Lyoto Machida at UFC 140, we’d never seen Jones tested before. Now we know that in addition to his unbelievable skills, size, length and athleticism, he also has the toughness and heart needed to be a champion in mixed martial arts. You don’t cope with that sort of pain, refuse to tap and then come back and dominate unless you’ve got special DNA.
And, let’s be clear, it was all Jones after Belfort’s failed submission attempt. Belfort couldn’t close the distance, as Jones kept him on the outside with his assortment of kicks to all parts of the body.
In the co-main event, Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson became the first UFC flyweight champ with a split-decision win over Joseph Benavidez, whose only previous career losses came to current UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz.
Johnson was a live underdog, hooking up his betting supporters with a plus-220 payout (risk $100 to win $200).
The judges had it 49-46 and 48-47 for Johnson, while the third judge gave it to Benavidez by a 48-47 count. Kevin Iole of YahooSports.com had it 48-47 in favor of Johnson.
In a crucial middleweight clash, Michael Bisping captured a unanimous-decision victory over Brian Stann as a minus-200 ‘chalk.’ The Brit won 29-28 on all three scorecards.
Stann landed a huge right hand late in the opening round that hurt Bisping, but the bell sounded seconds later and gave Bisping time to recover between rounds. The punch caused the judges to give Round 1 to Stann.
But Bisping was in control the rest of the way, using his superior wrestling to score takedowns and avoid Stann’s powerful boxing skills.
Bisping will most likely face the winner of the UFC 155 match between Chris Weidman and Tim Boetsch for the right to meet middleweight champ Anderson Silva sometime in 2013.
Brian Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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