Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Rocktagon Recap of UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort!


Featuring An Indecipherable Brit That Bashes the U.S. Military (Literally), Undersized Fighters Going Really, Really Fast and A Good Five Second Stretch of Time Where It Actually Looked Like Vitor Belfort Was Going to Submit Jon Jones!


It’s been a while since we’ve had a UFC PPV worth shilling out money to witness, and for those of you that have been out of the loop since early July, things have basically gone as insane as you could possibly imagine them at the Zuffa front offices.

Things began getting a little anarchic as soon as Dan Henderson pulled out of his bout with Jon Jones at UFC 151. Here’s the Cliff Notes version of the insanity that followed shortly thereafter. My guess is that one morning, the staggering number of fighter injuries that have shot practically every card in the foot all year long finally pushed Dana White beyond the tipping point, turning his millionaire eccentricity into full-blown cartoon villain madness. As a result, we have a slate of PPV shows that were seemingly arranged Mad Libs style, meaning that we, as a paying audience, get to dole out 55 bucks to watch Anderson Silva fight STEPHAN FREAKING BONNAR in the main event of a real life card, in the year 2012, next month. I’m still not sure whether this is the greatest thing that could possibly happen during a spate of fighter injuries, or the virtual death knell for the sport of mixed martial arts.

Tonight’s show is headlined by what, on paper, at least, sounds like the least fair fight since Jesus took on the Romans. Jon Jones is the sport’s most electrifying young talent - a kid that’s slew pretty much the entire Light Heavyweight division before being old enough to rent a car - while his adversary, Vitor Belfort, is a dude that’s been hanging out since the UFC was numbering its events in the teens. And also, he’s moving up a full weight class, on short notice. Using good old fashioned horse sense, that would seem to mean that this is the last night Belfort’s family will be able to recognize his face, but as we all know, once the cage locks shut, pretty much anything can happen…except for Vitor Belfort winning tonight, which there is no way in hell he will.

That considered, there actually ARE reasons to tune in tonight beyond watching Vitor Belfort get Mortal Kombat’ed this evening, beginning with the crowning of the FIRST EVER Flyweight Champion in UFC history, as Joseph Benavidez throws down with Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson in what very well could be a fight of the year contender. And if that wasn’t enough, we also have Michael Bisping taking on Brian Stann, in a fight that, just maybe, could give us the next challenger in line for Anderson Silva’s Middleweight strap (pending Bisping wins, of course.)

Tonight begins a new era in the UFC…for better, or for worse. And when I mean “worse,” I mean A LOT WORSE. That said, welcome one and all, to the ROCKTAGON RECAP of UFC 152: JONES VS. BELFORT! 

We are coming to you LIVE from Toronto, Canada, while I’m calling this shindig from the quiet and cozy Bailey’s in wherever I am. Our hosts, as expected, suck.

So, for the first time ever, I have decided to actually order food at this place, which I’ve been frequenting, on and off, for the last four years now. All I’m saying is, if these so-called “Ultimate Nachos” aren’t the final word on toasted tortilla chips covered in cheeses and other vegetable products, I am going to be pissed. And hard. Sorta’.

You know what Mike Goldberg’s face looks like in high def? That’s right, terror itself.

Featherweight Bout
Cub Swanson vs. Charles Oliveira

Cub Swanson is a generic white guy with a lot of tattoos, while Oliveira is a generic Brazilian guy, because lord knows, the UFC just doesn’t have enough of both. Oliveira has a three inch height advantage, which probably means he has a considerable reach advantage, too. Oliveira with a takedown, and he’s smothering Swanson. Both are back up, and we’ve got some swinging going on. And Oliveira gets popped, throws his hands up like a woman, and falls down like three seconds later. Well, that was weird as all hell. Swanson wins it by first round knockout.

Luke Rockhold and Daniel Cormier are in the house. And if you know who those people are, congrats on being an MMA nerd.

Light Heavyweight Bout
Matt Hamill vs. Roger Hollett 

Hollett is a local boy (sorta’) from Nova Scotia, while Hamill is that one deaf guy that is the only person to hold a win over Jon Jones (by disqualification, of course) that was retired for like three months. Hollett’s nickname is “The Hulk,” which makes him one of approximately 88 people in the organization with said moniker.

Hamill gets several bonus points for coming out to “Working Man” by Rush, which means that the person on the roster WITHOUT a working cochlea probably has the best taste in music of anybody fighting this evening.

Hollett kinda’ looks like a dehydrated Shane Carwin, while Hamill reminds me of Jim Carrey’s “Fire Marshall Bill” character from “In Living Color,” if he got all buff and stuff. A standing battle for most of the first round, with Hamill doing most of the pushing. I like how Hamill opens his arms every five seconds, like he’s a pterodactyl or something. Hamill with an easy takedown, and he’s teeing off on Hollett’s bald spot. Hamill literally pounds Hollett’s face for the next two minutes until the bell sounds.

Hamill with a takedown to start off the second, and Hollett is just barely hanging in there. Things get vertical, and Hamill has some blood trickling down his nose. Both guys looking pretty gassed at this point. Hamill throwing some pillow-soft punches now, and as soon as I type that, he hits Hollett with a modified Rock Bottom. That’s his THIRD takedown of this fight. I’ve got it 20-18 for Hamill heading into the final round.

Hamill with takedown number 4, and he’s got Hollett’s back. Hollett with two minutes to score the knockout. And cue takedown #5. Minute left in the fight, and Hamill gets takedown numero six-o. Gotta’ be 30-27 for “The Hammer.” And Matt gets a unanimous decision, even though one judge, somehow, scored it a 29-28.

Ronda Rousey is in the crowd, sitting next to Royce Gracie, of all people. Cue some military propaganda, which gives me a convenient excuse to hop into these nachos of the “ultimate” variety.

Middleweight Bout
Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann

A little ironic that Stann is an American war hero that, technically, is a citizen of Japan, no? Bisping out to “Song 2” by Blur, and you got to think he’s next in line for the Middleweight belt, pending he’s able to get past Stann tonight.

Remember kids: Corn Nuts are the only corn nuts that are corn to the core.

Bisping has Stann bullied against the cage early. Stann is definitely looking for the knockout as soon as he can get it. Bisping tries for a takedown, but Stann ain’t budging. Timeout, as Stann tries to uncover his testicles again.  Twice, actually. Bisping looking for another takedown, and Stann clips him. A very, very even round.

Not for nothing, but these two dudes have practically identical haircuts. Bisping goes for a takedown, and this time he lands it. Bisping in side control, and Stann powers his way into Bisping’s guard. Stann now controlling this one from the top. Bisping looking to lock in a triangle. Bisping powers out, and we’re standing again. Bisping getting surgical with his jabs now. Bisping with another takedown, with about thirty seconds left in the round. Definitely Bisping’s round. 20-18 for the Brit, but that first round really could be score either way.

And in case you’re wondering? These nachos are excellent, surprisingly. Bisping begins round three with another takedown. Three minutes to go, and this one is all Bisping. Stann stuffs another takedown attempt. Stann has less than 90 seconds to make the miracle comeback. And that’s takedown number four for “The Count.” Got to be Bisping’s fight here. A 29-28 call for Bisping, across the board.

Here’s a verbatim transcript of Bisping’s post-fight interview: “ImmahemmhummagaogCanadaahbajibbabibba.”

Up next, we’ve got the first ever Flyweight Championship Bout in UFC history. The comedy here is that the championship belt probably weighs more than both competitors combined.

UFC Flyweight Championship Bout
Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez 

According to Mike Goldberg, Matt Hughes thinks that Johnson is one of only two dudes that’s trained under him that should give up their day jobs, because he though they were going to be World Champions some day. He’s brought that up about seven times tonight, and yes…he doesn’t tell us who that enigmatic other student was, either.

Benavidez comes out to “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent, which is probably best known for being in that one scene in “Rock Star” where everybody’s making out and being high on drugs and stuff. My favorite thing about “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is that, if you squint, he kinda’ looks like the alien from “Mac and Me” a little.

Wow, this is like watching two midgets square off. I don’t know who’s going to win this one, but I really hope things don’t end in a no-contest when the ref steps on them.

A very close - and, as expected - fast first round. Mighty Mouse - in his neon green Xbox trunks - tries to Jose Aldo his foe with some leg kicks. A 10-9 round for Johnson.

Johnson with some more leg kicks to begin the second. Benavidez responds by trying to spinning back fist his adversary. Both guys are landing, but nothing’s really done any real damage yet. A much closer round than the first, especially with Benavidez landing a heavy overhand as the round expired. 20-18 for Johnson, but that last one could just as easily be scored in favor of Benavidez.

Benavidez is landing more punches, and Johnson is landing more kicks. Benavidez misses with a high kick that surely would have put Johnson on his ass. Benavidez bleeding from the side of his head. Benavidez with a takedown, but Johnson is right back up. A virtual dead heat as far as significant striking goes. These next two rounds are ultimately going to decide it.

Benavidez drops Johnson and swarms him. Benavidez going for a choke, and he’s almost got it. Somehow, Johnson is holding on. Now Johnson has a leglock. Benavidez out, and he’s on top again. Benavidez in side control. Johnson spins out. Benavidez misses with a spinning elbow. Johnson almost has Benavidez’s back. We’re standing again. Things are almost too fast to call now. Johnson with a takedown, and he’s landing some elbows. A very close round, but I would have to give it to Benavidez.

Johnson takes his foe down with a waistlock. Johnson with another takedown, and he’s in side control. 90 seconds left. Benavidez swinging for the fences. If I were a betting man, I’d say Johnson has this one in the bag.

Benavidez’s face looks like a hooker’s womb. And as predicted, Johnson wins this one by split decision…which is kinda’ weird, actually. And during the post-fight interview, we all find out why this guy is nicknamed “Mighty Mouse" as soon the new champ starts talking...

Cain Velasquez in the house, and I think I still some blood on him from that last fight with “Bigfoot” Silva. And if you ask me, Kevin James still has a better physique than Roy Nelson.

UFC Light Heavyweight Championship
Jon Jones (Champion) vs. Vitor Belfort (Challenger)

Maybe I am being a tad premature, but I think Tom Hanks should be walking behind Vitor Belfort, screaming “Walking the mile! Walking the mile!” over and over again.

Jon Jones, now sporting an Abe Lincoln beard, comes out to a chorus of boos. He gets hugs and kisses from his brother and mama in the crowd, though.

Jones has a 10.5 inch reach advantage, which means that if you gave Belfort a rake, he still wouldn’t be able to hit his opponent first. Jones with a takedown. And oh dear lord, Belfort has an armbar. Folks, we could be on the verge of a repeat of the Werdum/Fedor fight from 2010. Jones is up, and basically pile driving his foe over and over again. Jones escapes, mounts a takedown, and is raining elbows.

Belfort’s face is ROYALLY messed up after the first round. The cage side doctor gives him the A-OK, and this fight continues. Jones keeps doing this one thing where he front kicks Belfort in the knee. The defending champ starts throwing some high kicks, and Belfort looks out of it. Jones with a takedown, and Belfort pulls guard to conclude the round. 20-18 for Jones at this point.

Jones comes out with some kicks to begin the third, and Belfort pulls guard again. Jones in the full mount, and dropping some heavy shots while Belfort looks for a sub opening. And Belfort pulls guard one last time as the round ends. 30-27 fight for Jones.

Belfort flops to his back to begin the fourth, and Jones lands in side control. And now, Belfort is totally effed as the defending champ starts elbowing him from the side mount. Eventually, Jones gets bored and decides to lock in a kimura instead. Belfort taps instantly.

SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Since Jones said his arm was “messed up” after his fight with Belfort, we may see him on the shelf for a couple of months. During the wait, that gives us ample time to see who emerges from the Light Heavyweight fold as the next challenger to the 205 strap, which, at this juncture, is just too cluttered to determine. The same cannot be said for the newly crowned 125 champ Demetrious Johnson, who will definitely be meeting the winner of the Jon Dodson/ Jussier da Silva fight at UFC on FX 5. Michael Bisping looked for promising in his win tonight, although I’m still not 100 percent sure it was “enough” to get him in line to face Anderson Silva. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Bisping’s next bout would be a true number one contender’s bout, against the winner of this December’s Chris Weidman/Alan Belcher contest, sometime in early 2013.

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: The first round of the Jones/Belfort fight was just CRAZY, as was the fourth round of the Benavidez/Johnson bout.

SHOW LOWLIGHT: One could argue that the Hamill/Hollett fight was pretty underwhelming.

ROGAN-ISM OF THE NIGHT: “That’s STUPID!” - on Demetrious Johnson’s speed.

FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM TONIGHT’S SHOW:

- If a guy is nicknamed “The Hulk,” that probably means he fights like shit.

- It’s actually a lot easier to get out of an armbar than it appears.

- Having a heart rate that rests somewhere in the low 40s makes you an outstanding striker (unless you’re fighting some dude named “Hendo,” of course.)

- Leg strikes to the body are worth more to judges than straight jabs to the face.

- A Brazilian dude that just had his face smashed for sixteen minutes straight is somehow a good role model for your son and daughter.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this week. Crank up “Reunited” by Wu-Tang and “10 Crack Commandments” by Biggie, and I’ll be seeing you in a few.

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