Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is set to blow the roof off Toronto's Air Canada Centre tomorrow night (Sept. 22, 2012) with its UFC 152: "Jones vs. Belfort" pay-per-view (PPV) event, featuring a light heavyweight title fight between reigning division champion Jon Jones and former 205-pound titleholder Vitor Belfort.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 152, beginning with the pay-per-view telecast at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday night. In addition, we will deliver up-to-the-minute quick results of all the undercard action much earlier on fight night.
The big story heading into tomorrow night's mixed martial arts (MMA) extravaganza surrounds the invincible warrior known as "Bones." There hasn't been a fighter to date to give him any kind of resistance, or even make him break a sweat.
Will "The Phenom" be that guy?
There's also a feature flyweight attraction that pits Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson. One of these World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veterans will be crowned the UFC's first ever 125-pound champion. Will "Mighty Mouse" survive the dreaded "Joe Jitsu?"
In middleweight action, perennial contender Michael Bisping will try to clear an "All American" hurdle en route to a 185-pound title shout. Can Brian Stann put him down for "The Count" and stake his own claim to Anderson Silva's title?
It's time to figure out who brings home the bacon in "Hog Town." Here's my best guess:
Nostradumbass predicts: I'm not the world's biggest Jon Jones fan, but I still consider him the best fighter on the planet. If you take a step back and look at the way he's not only dominated the 205-pound division, but how he absolutely destroyed all of its former champions in the process, it's really quite something to behold.
That's just one of about 100 reasons I give Vitor Belfort zero chance of winning this fight.
"Bones" has a reach that's longer than most queen size mattresses, so imagine trying to punch someone who's standing on the other end of your bed. I don't care how fast "The Phenom" is, speed only kills if you can run over your target.
It's funny how Belfort's name can immediately legitimize a fight, like he's some sort of combat sports deity. In reality, he gets the amount of love that he does because he's a product of the golden age, mixing it up with UFC and PRIDE legends while he was still wet behind the ears.
After careful review, I find his record to be a little underwhelming.
Do I think he's a contender at 185 pounds? Absolutely -- and he's proven that. But his last win at 205 was against James Zikic at Cage Rage 23 in late 2007. When you go from "The Messenger" to the best fighter in the world in a higher weight class, the forecast is considerably bleak.
The best light heavyweights in the world can't beat Jones. What makes anyone think a bloated middleweight can?
Belfort, like anyone else, has a puncher's chance. But he's at a disadvantage in this fight no matter where it goes. Jones can strike, he can wrestle and he can submit. The Brazilian will put up a valiant effort, but it won't be anything remotely close to enough to recapture the crown.
Prediction: Jones def. Belfort via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: If Joseph Benavidez stood on the shoulders of Demetrious Johnson, they would still be shorter than Rawhead Rex. I'm not sure what that has to do with tomorrow night's title fight, but I have a word count I need to hit and this is the kind of shit that's been rattling around in my pea-sized brain.
Fight of the Night?
I think any time you feature the smaller weight classes you can expect fireworks and this time is no different. So why is it so hard to give a crap about the flyweight division? Probably because it resembles most weight classes in Strikeforce: a handful of title contenders followed by a revolving door of fighters you've never heard of.
Give it time.
Once this division gets its legs under it, I think we'll be able to get behind it. Right now, the contest between "Mighty Mouse" and "Joe B. Wan Kenobi" effectively cleans out the division. The good news is, they should put on such a great fight, it can carry us into next year as things grow.
With Johnson as its ruler.
Benavidez is fast and can do it all -- and they share big wins over top competition. The problem is, every area that he's good in, Johnson is just a little bit better. It wouldn't surprise me to see the first two rounds go either way, but eventually "Mighty Mouse" is going to find his rhythm and run away with the final three frames.
Prediction: Johnson def. Benavidez via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: You know that whole Brian Stann movement? I get it. He's the perfect ambassador for the UFC, so from a marketing standpoint, his push is a no-brainer. He's got the look, swings heavy leather, can form complete sentences and oh yeah, just happens to be a war hero.
That's the good news. The bad news, is that as a mixed martial artist, he's profoundly one-dimensional. Stann strikes like he's still wearing combat boots and it amazes me how many fighters decide to "test the waters" before he sinks them with a five-ounce torpedo.
Leben, Santiago, Sakara ... stand 'em up and he'll knock 'em down.
That's not happening against Bisping. For all the crap he takes from the fans, "The Count" happens to be a pretty good fighter. One of the running jokes is to call him "pillow fists," but that's not a fair critique of a fighter with 18 finishes in 22 wins (14 by way of KO or TKO).
It's that damn H-bomb that continues to haunt him.
Outside of going stiff against Dan Henderson, you can make an argument in his other three losses that it was close enough to go either way. In this weekend's contest he's the better -- and more versatile -- striker. He's also improved his wrestling enough to keep himself out of the red zone. Cardio? Never an issue.
There's just no place for Stann to win.
He can crush mid-card cans and flat-footed hopefuls, but when he faces a more talented fighter, like a Phil Davis or a Chael Sonnen -- or even a Krzysztof Soszynski -- the "All American" is lowered to half-mast. I expect nothing different tomorrow night in what I predict will be a lopsided unanimous decision win in favor of Great Britain.
Prediction: Bisping def. Stann via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Matt Hamill is returning to the Octagon following a brief retirement, probably because hanging up the gloves after back-to-back losses has to sting when you're a competitor. I get that. But unfortunately, not everyone can go out like Chris Lytle did.
This is a bad idea.
"The Hammer" was a fairly decent fighter, finishing off the notoriously durable Tim Boetsch prior to pasting Mark Munoz. But that was in 2009. Three years may not sound like a big deal to you youngins, but Hamill is 35 trying to resurrect a career in cage fighting. His last two wins came against the equally putrid Keith Jardine and Tito Ortiz.
And I just can't shake the sight of his broken-down body getting worked by Alexander Gustafsson.
The only saving grace is that Hamill is being paired with Roger Hollett, who has a pretty good record fighting guys like Marcus Hicks (11-21), Shane Biever (5-9) and Chris Peak (11-19). He's been inactive almost as long as Hamill, battling John Hawk to a split decision win last November in Bellator.
A win is a win -- but I'm not breaking out the party hats just yet.
If I have to choose between a certified can crusher or an aging veteran who was blown out in his last two fights, I'll take Hollett. I don't think he's that much better than Hamill, who still has great wrestling, but the former Ultimate Fighter never had good cardio to begin with and he's probably been eating cheeseburgers for the last 10 months.
Prediction: Hollett def. Hamill via split decision
Nostradumbass predicts: This is Charles Oliveira's coming out party. And I don't mean coming out like Doogie Howser coming out, I mean coming out like hey, pay attention, this motherfucker is for real.
Cub Swanson is a very likable guy behind the scenes and every fight he's in becomes the counter-argument to Greg Jackson's play-it-safe label. What worries me heading into Toronto is that same go-for-broke offense is what got him into trouble against fighters who knew how to capitalize on it.
The Brazilian is 2-0 since dropping to featherweight and I think we're all in agreement when I say his jiu-jitsu is on another level. His striking may not be top shelf, but it's not a liability, either. Yes, he was submitted by Jim Miller and pounded out by Donald Cerrone, but I think that had more to do with Octagon maturity than it did talent.
Charlie is all grown up -- and 10 pounds lighter.
His calf slicer on Eric Wisely was a work of art and he followed that up by strangling Jonathan Brookins. I wouldn't say the Palm Springs pugilist has no chance in this fight, but he needs to unleash hell on the feet and not stop until Oliveira is stiff. If he gets backed into the fence or taken to the ground, it's going to be a Swansong for Swanson, who already has three submission losses on his record.
Prediction: Oliveira def. Swanson via submission
That's a wrap, folks.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC 152 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Jones vs. Belfort."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.