When looking at the marquee matches of UFC 152, I can’t help but see this as an ode to Bo Jackson. Why? The three bouts offer a synergy of speed and power that is sure to keep fight fans engaged. Just as Jackson did in football and baseball, six fighters will put their uncanny abilities to use in fights that have UFC title implications. What kind of night is Toronto’s Air Canada Centre in for come September 22nd? I’ll do my best to tell you:
Michael “The Count” Bisping vs Brian “The All American” Stann- UFC Middleweight Division Bout
Be warned, this could be the most intense meeting between American and British representatives since the war of 1812. Both Stann and Bisping have suffered losses to Chael Sonnen recently, however their stock in championship relevance has risen since champion Anderson Silva completely erased Sonnen out of the title picture at UFC 148.
Stann, arguably has the hardest hands in the division. To go with those hands of stone, is a much improved grappling game he hopes to unveil in Toronto. In the other corner is Bisping, whose mat game is evident, yet under appreciated. His diverse striking is what has made him famous. With Stann’s granite chin and Bisping’s heart of resilience, we can just about cancel out the option of a knockout. My pick is “The Count” outlasting “The All American” in a decision, but it would behoove the British bad boy to avoid as many headshots as possible.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson- UFC Flyweight Title Bout
Now that the smoke has cleared, UFC’s inaugural flyweight champion will finally be crowned. As a brief history lesson, the two-bout, four-fighter, Flyweight Division title tournament kicked off at UFC on FX2 back on March 2012. Benavidez made quick work of Yasuhiro Urushitani in the form of a TKO, 11 seconds into the second round. Johnson’s journey to the final was more complicated. On this historical evening, Johnson was granted a controversial decision over Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall. He won the first round, but it couldn’t have been more clear that McCall put a chokehold on the final two rounds. The inaccurate decision sparked scuttlebutt and backlash like no other. As a result, the the decision was overturned to a draw. Three months later, Johnson and McCall went the distance once again, however, Johnson’s performance was more convincing, resulting in an undisputed verdict.
Now on to the first ever UFC Flyweight title bout. Benavidez’s submission and striking skills are of a caliber that will force anyone to succumb to his will. The biggest challenge for him is hitting and getting a hold of someone that’s impossible to catch. Johnson is the UFC’s fastest fighter. Whether it’s his striking, wrestling or defense, Johnson’s speed is instrumental in every aspect of his game.
As a member of the Alpha Male camp, Benavidez aspires to be UFC’s first Flyweight champion. When it’s all said and done, “Mighty Mouse” will be the Alpha male that cements a limited place in the company’s history.
Jon “Bones” Jones vs. Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort- UFC Light Heavyweight Title Bout
Who knew one injury could make things haywire? On August 22nd, 10 days before his UFC 151 championship bout with Jon “Bones” Jones, Dan “Hendo” Henderson suffered a knee injury that forced Henderson to pull out of his title shot. It took no time for former middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen to volunteer his services. Jones declined! He also declined rematches with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. The constant rejections forced the UFC to do something never before done in its history, cancel an entire fight card. Jones’s behavior drew the ire of many. Not only were fight fans, who booked flights and hotels, disgusted, but undercard fighters who were forced to miss out on a payday were bitter with the champion’s actions. It’s because of this that Jones is now the most vilified fighter in the sport. Does Jones deserve blame for the eradication of the card? Absolutely! Should he be the lone source of blame? Absolutely not! Because UFC’s front office did not originally formulate a card that would draw a significant amount of interest, everyone that plays parts in booking fights are accessories to the crime.
And then along comes a savior! Former Light Heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort stepped in to challenge the young champion.
Originally, many, including myself, were not excited about this fight. Looking at how Anderson Silva knocked out Belfort with a surprising front kick, and the similarities that Jones and Silva share as distance strikers, the common thought was history would repeat itself. However, in evaluating this fight further, Belfort is a fighter that charges full speed ahead. I’m not ready to compare his hands to Dan Henderson’s in terms of power, but he is a powerful and speedy puncher. I am still curious how Jones will respond to being hit with a solid punch. In addition, Belfort executes submissions. This fight will be closer than most think. In fact, Belfort has a legitimate shot of doing the unthinkable. As tempting as it is to go with the upset, I’m taking Bones and his elusiveness to avoid the rapid fire striking of Belfort and adding a fifth win to his “Legends Tour”. For those who may not remember, I deemed Jones’ recent run the “Legends Tour” as a result of his four-fight winning streak over former champions and future hall of gamers.
Check back with Take No Prisoners soon for a recap of this weekend’s action.
By Antoine Hoffman