The main event of the UFC 152: "Jones vs. Belfort" event that took place last night (Sat., Sept. 22, 2012) at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, featured Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones climbing back inside the cage after a tumultuous few weeks to battle longtime veteran of the sport, Vitor Belfort.
Belfort got his shot by being one of the few fighters with a name big enough to headline a UFC card to actually accept a short notice bout against the 205-pound king after UFC 151 was cancelled thanks to Dan Henderson's knee injury and "Bones'" refusal to fight Chael Sonnen.
It took a while to get here and it looked like a monster mismatch but everyone got to the arena healthy and the fight actually happened, live on pay-per-view (PPV).
Expect a hard fought battle that would make it to the championship rounds? Maybe you didn't -- few did -- but that's exactly what happened, as Belfort fought as hard as he ever has before getting submitted in round four. With the victory, Jones has now defended his light heavyweight title for the fourth time in a row.
The outcome was in doubt early, as Belfort worked an armbar that actually injured the champion but he battled through it and ultimately remained king of the 205-pound division.
Jones came out with his typical spider crawl and Vitor fired off a head kick that surprised the champion. Jones looked to the referee, John McCarthy, who told him if he was going to play the game, he had to know how it would go.
Nonetheless, he ended up shooting in for a quick takedown and got it with ease. Belfort worked for an armbar and actually locked it in. Jones picked him up and roughed him off but not before Vitor had cranked on it for a little bit.
Jones really did damage from top with elbows and punches, opening up "The Phenom" and working from full guard with huge power. Belfort gave his very best with that first armbar but he ended up taking far too much punishment underneath the massive body of the champion.
"Bones" crowded Vitor against the cage to start the second. This allowed Jones to work his expanded arsenal of strikes. He busted out the side kicks and spinning backfists, too, but the Brazilian survived and pushed on.
Jones started peppering Belfort with side kicks to the leg and knee, a short and simple attack that looked to be taking its toll. The champ fired off with more and more kicks, getting into a rhythm and easing into a comfort zone. Belfort let him, too, before landing a knee and actually pulling guard once they clinched with 90 seconds left in the round.
This time, the damage wasn't as devastating but the submission attempt didn't come until time ran out in the round.
Jones came ahead with reckless abandon to begin the third, no different than the first two rounds. Suddenly, Jones landed a side kick and although the reaction was delayed, Belfort went down in pain.
Or maybe he was playing possum and just wanted to get to the mat.
Jones followed him down and immediately, the Brazilian threw his legs up. Nothing going at first. Nothing going at all. Back to the feet and Jones went back to attacking the thighs with those side kicks.
Belfort initiated a clinch with two minutes left in the round and again pulled guard. He very clearly felt he could win by submission here, as it was his primary form of attack. Except, as pointed out by Joe Rogan throughout the fight, he wasn't firing off enough submission attempts.
But he knew what he wanted to do.
Heading to round four, both guys looked tired. Really tired. And this was the first time Belfort had ever seen the fourth round in a professional MMA fight.
Vitor tried to exchange big early but ended up getting pushed on his back, where Jones quickly passed his leg over to a crucifix position. From there, he grabbed an arm and worked an Americana to get the submission win.
It was tough going but Jones defended his title. Huge props to Belfort for hanging in the way he did.
Remember, too, to check out MMAmania.com's complete coverage of the UFC 152 event by clicking here.