After UFC 151 was cancelled three weeks ago, thanks to Jon Jones not wanting to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice (or Dana White canceling the whole card, if that sounds better for you), the MMA world finally gets to watch a new UFC event again this Sunday. And with no injuries destroying the main event fights, we here at FHM HQ heave a big sigh of relief. So what’s in store for fight fans at UFC 152? We profile the three fights headlining the card.
JON "BONES JONES vs. VITOR "THE PHENOM" BELFORT"
The Backstory: Jon Jones isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite fighter right now. One “Lebron-esque” decision of not taking a short notice fight that irked most of the MMA world later, we finally get to see him back in the Octagon. To Jones’ credit, his last four fights are all against former Light Heavyweight Champions and he now faces a fifth one in Vitor Belfort.
What we think will happen: Bones has every advantage going his way. He’s younger, he has longer reach, and his wrestling is better. But what makes this match-up just as intriguing as Jones’s scrapped fight against Dan Henderson is that, like Hendo, Belfort has some of the meanest hands in the sport. At age 35, Belfort's hand speed and power are still there, and if he lands on Bones’ still untested chin, it could change the course of the fight. Add that to the fact that Belfort has a 100-percent finish rate in the UFC, as all his wins in the organization have either been by KO, TKO, or submission.
That said, the blueprint for Belfort to win this fight is to land bombs on Jones. But that won't be easy, as none of Jones' previous opponents have been able to do that. However, none of Jones' opponents had The Phenom's speed. Now, if Belfort isn’t able to exploit this, Jones may capitalize on his better wrestling and that could be spell doom for the Brazilian. Belfort's last match against Anthony Johnson showed that the The Phenom struggles against better wrestler, which in this case is Jones.
FHM's Tip for the Betting Man: If Belfort doesn’t get to channel those lighting fast hands to land, we're quite sure Jones will find a way to grind this one out. He'll either pummel Vitor on the ground or use his long reach to beat up The Phenom. Jones, TKO, 2nd round.
JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ vs. DEMETRIOUS "MIGHTY MOUSE" JOHNSON
The Backstory: The original main event of this card makes for an appetizing co-main event. Benavidez and Johnson are fighting in the much anticipated conclusion of the UFC’s featherweight tournament, the winner of which will be crowned the division’s first-ever UFC champ.
What we think will happen: Styles make fights and this one promises to be a barnburner. Both Benavidez and Johnson are fast strikers and good wrestlers. In such a balance fight, whoever imposes their game plan better wins. Johnson is a grinder with a slew of his fights going into decision. He moves a lot inside the Octagon and prefers to befuddle his opponents with strikes from all angles. Meanwhile, Benavidez prefers doing his work on the ground, where he eventually submits his opponents. He also is one of the few featherweights around with legitimate one-punch KO power. Expect both guys to showcase all these skills as they meet for the title in UFC's newest division.
FHM's Tip for the Betting Man: This one's a tough choice as we think it's a pretty even match-up. But if it goes to the decision we'll go with Benavidez. He's got more power and a slightly better ground game.
BRIAN " THE ALL-AMERICAN" STANN vs. MICHAEL "THE COUNT" BISPING
The Backstory: What makes the UFC just as good, if not better than Walang Hanggan are the storylines behind fights. England's Michael Bisping is one of the most hated fighters in the middleweight division and he doesn’t mind playing the villain role to the hilt. On the other hand, Brian Stann is a war hero, a former US Marine, and the consummate good guy.
What we think will happen: But back stories aside, this is a make or break fight for both. Bisping and Stann have walked through tough middleweights but seem to have a problem against the upper echelon of the division—both have lost to former No.1 contender Chael Sonnen. Whoever wins this fight will move up a notch in their hunt for the title and will relegate the loser to gatekeeper status.
This fight could also easily be the most entertaining one on the card. Bisping is a volume striker with a high work rate and tends to win against those who can’t catch up with him. Stann had shown his precision striking and always looks for a highlight finish. The only knock against him is his lack of ground game but The Count isn’t exactly one to take things down on the mat. Ergo, expect a slugfest, folks!
FHM's Tip for the Betting Man: If Stann out strikes Bisping and lands bombs, The Count’s fragile chin may not be able to take it (check back on Bisping Vs. Henderson to see what we're talking about). But being the cocky guy that Bisping is, we're pretty sure he'll try to turn this fight into a brawl, which might not exactly be good for him. We'd be really surprised though if this one goes to the judges' scorecards—that means one of the fighters chickened out of bashing each other's heads. But if it does, we say Bisping, unanimous decision. The Count might play it smart and take Stann to the ground, spend the fight on top of him, and win a boring fight. But if it turns out to be the suntukan we think it will be, we go for Stann, 1st round KO.