Jon Jones vs Vitor Belfort
After the debacle surrounding the now defunct and scrapped event that would have been UFC 151 we witnessed a shuffle in real time concerning Jon Jones' next defense of the light heavyweight championship, and this is where the wheel landed. It all started eight days before what would have been 151 when Dan Henderson was forced to withdraw due to a torn MCL, Lyoto Machida could not be reached as he was travelling, and thus Chael Sonnen was to step in and fight in Dan's place. Jon Jones and his team refused to fight Chael, and due to the card lacking a modicum of depth the entire event was canceled. Since then Machida said he would not fight Jones without being able to have a full camp, and that four weeks would not be enough. Now Vitor Belfort steps in to challenge for the light heavyweight title despite the fact that he will not have fought in the weight class in five years to the day.
This is about as lackluster a fight as can be in terms of overall competitive nature. Vitor Belfort while still a very talented fighter has everything working against him here. Less than a month to train for one of the best fighters in the world and fighting at a weight class above where he's been fighting for the last five years coupled with the fact that his skillset isn't exactly tailored to give Jones any issues whatsoever. It's all a recipe for disaster for "The Phenom" but some of these fighters will step up when they get a call. Striking I have to give Jones the nod for overall technique despite the fact that he isn't the more technical striker, his athleticism, speed, and length all give him a huge leg up onother fighters and provide an incredible learning curve while he continues to improve by leaps and bounds in the meantime. Striking power is hard to say really. Vitor is known for his quick flurries and one punch abilities while Jones has devastated some of the best fighters of all time at 205 with the strikes he lands. I'll give the nod to Jones for his ability to dismantle some of the toughest fighters in history with his striking. Grappling is where Jones is absolutely better than Belfort and by a much wider margin. Jones' wrestling coupled with Vitor's less than elite sprawl through the years would have Me believe that any time Jones wants to he can take this fight to the ground and really work those nasty elbows into Vitor's face. We have seen before that Vitor's mental toughness tends to wane in situations where he faces major adversity in fights. If he gets toyed with for a round or two we could see him start to lose heart, and it's all downhill from there.
Prediction: Jon Jones by SubmissionJoseph Benavidez vs Demetrious Johnson
A matchup fans have been waiting for since before the flyweight division was even well known. People have been saying for some time now that these two would vy for the flyweight title once the UFC or WEC adopted the division and now we finally get to see it. These two were both very successful at Bantamweight, but were long considered undersized even for that. Now that the 125 pound division has reached the UFC these two get to showcase their talents at the division they belonged at all along. As far as the fight goes these two are the same in some areas while polarized in others against one another. Striking is broken into technique and power. Obviously Benavidez has the power striking edge here, but with his speed and varied attack Johnson gets the nod in overall technique. Both of these guys have above average wrestling, and so I'll call that a wash. When it comes to submissions Benavidez has that patented Alpha Male camp guillotine choke, while Johnson has shown great submission defense in his time as well as good scrambling ability. I see this one consisting of both guys trying to impose the normal gameplan on the other. "Joe Jitsu" will look to bully Johnson around and land the big shot before finishing on the ground while "Mighty Mouse" will look to work from the outside and use his speed to eventually confuse his opponent. The problem is that Benavidez' shots will be the harder shots, I just don't see Johnson taking those and shrugging them off as easily as he has to some of the guys he's fought before. I don't necessarily see anyone being finished here, but it wouldn't surprise Me if Joe landed a big shot and jumped down for a submission while Johnson was rocked.
Prediction: Joseph Benavidez by DecisionMichael Bisping vs Brian Stann
This very well could be a number one contender fight, or at least place the winner into talks as the number one contender. Brian Stann entered the UFC's Middleweight division with a bang and has yet to see a judges decision since dropping to 185lbs. Bisping meanwhile has been on a bit of a tear through that included Dan Miller, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jorge Rivera, and Jason Miller until his momentum was halted prematurely by Chael Sonnen in a fight that many believe he should have gotten the decision in. Striking technique is an area of expertise for Bisping while Stann is known as a power puncher. Though I don't see a whole lot of grappling going on in this one Michael is easily the better grappler and his takedown defense is well known in the sport. Unfortunately for Stann it looks like his only real edge here is going to be in his heavy handed style. He hits harder than Bisping by quite a margin, but aside from that I have a hard time envisioning him doing anything better than "the Count" here. Bisping has the better boxing, better footwork, better grappling and better takedowns/takedown defense, and better cardio. It's unlikely Bisping knocks Stann out, but that's not totally out of the question. We're likely looking at a unanimous decision for Bisping barring a flash KO from Stann, which is also not out of the question.
Prediction: Michael Bisping by Decision.