By Anthony Springer Jr.
As a die-hard MMA fan, life simply didn’t feel right without my regular fix of UFC action. The abrupt cancellation of UFC 151 put a huge gulf in the Zuffa machine’s near non-stop schedule of fights in 2012. But with the dawn of UFC 152, the tragedy of 151 turns into triumph on Saturday.
The cancellation of Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson gives fans a Jon Jones (16-1) vs. Vitor Belfort (21-9) main event this Saturday – adding, if nothing else, a big name main event to an already solid card.
On paper, this fight is an absolute mismatch and a borderline debacle. To equate it with boxing, this is a very undersized Josesito Lopez stepping up – in both weight and toughness – to fight “Canelo” Alvarez. Just as Lopez was credited for “having heart” (the most back handed compliment we can hand a fighter these days), give credit to Belfort for stepping up and fighting the greatest MMA-talent of this generation on short notice.
Everything about this fight points to Vitor Belfort, the self-described “young dinosaur” getting demolished in highlight reel fashion. But if Jon Jones has written off Belfort as most fans and pundits have, an upset is in the works.
For all that Belfort will lack in size and weight on fight night, he will more than compensate for with speed. Closing the distance will be another matter entirely, but don’t be surprised if we see a very cautious Jon Jones in the opening moments of the bout, when a fresh Belfort is most dangerous. What you won’t be seeing is Jones turning his back to throw a kick or an elbow. Should the champion do that, he’s likely to find the challenger’s fist in his face.
If you recall his December 2011 bout with Lyoto Machida, “Bones” was temporarily knocked off guard by a Machida punch. And while “The Dragon” has been known to pack a wallop (as Thiago Silva), the power and accuracy of Belfort is light-years ahead of Machida’s. “The Phenom” may be one of the best finisher’s in the business and if he can catch Jones, he’ll finish the champ (see Belfort’s previous fights with… just about everyone he’s finished).
What’s likely to happen Saturday night: Jones uses his superior reach to counter the challenger into oblivion. But with four ounce gloves and a history of knockouts at his back, counting out Vitor Belfort is unwise.
Jon Jones definitely isn’t.
UFC 152 airs live on pay-per-view this Saturday at 7 p.m. pst.
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Coming up next: UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort is LIVE on Pay-Per-View Saturday, September 22nd from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario at 7 pm PT/10 pm ET. For more info on UFC 152 or the UFC, visit www.UFC.com