By Jaime C. Feal
For the first time Jon Jones looked really vulnerable in the cage. Jones was in a position no one had ever seen him in: Writhing in pain, his arm fully trapped in an armbar submission from his opponent. Jones was able to withstand the pain, refusing to tap, and powered out of the submission. That would be the closest Belfort would ever come to taking Jones’ title. Jones showed resilience and heart, silencing some of his critics, and cruised throughout the rest of the bout, until he locked up a kimura to submit Belfort in the fourth round. Also on the card, Demetrious Johnson scored an upset win over Joseph Benavidez to become the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion, and Michael Bisping outpointed Brian Stann in a matchup of middleweight contenders.
Middleweight Division (185 lbs.):
Brian “All-American” Stann (12-4, 6-3 UFC) vs. Michael “The Count” Bisping (22-4, 12-4 UFC)
Stann is moving forward looking to throw bombs, but Bisping ties up with him. Stann pushes him away. Stann still looking for the kill shot but Bisping using good movement. Now Bisping shoots for a takedown and drives Stann across the Octagon and into the cage. Stann still defending the takdedown. The middleweights separate and Stann lands a right. The fighters exchange low blows, the latter of which has Bisping in pain. Ref stops fight to allow Bisping to recover. Right hook from Bisping, hard counter right from Stann. A couple leg kicks from Stann, then a big right hand connects that hurts Bisping. “The Count” is on wobbly legs and Stann rushes forward, but the round ends and Bisping is given a much needed break. 10-9 round for Stann.
Bisping scores a nice takedown and lands in side control. Stann reverses and Bisping stands back up, punches Stann while still on the ground. The fighters stand back up, Bispng working the clinch and more jabs. Stann trying to leg kick but eating jabs and punches from “The Count.” Bisping shoots for a double and scores – Stann is taken down again. Really needs to work on his wrestling. Bisping working for a kimura but bails on it as the horn sounds to close the frame. 10-9 round for Bisping.
The pattern continues as Bisping lands a high volume of jabs and strikes, and Stann can only respond with leg kicks. Bisping drives for a takedown but Stann does a good job defending this time. Bisping with a hard one-two combination. The fighters clinch and on the break Stann lands more leg kicks and a good shot upstairs. Bisping back to jabbing and throwing combos, keeping Stann at bay. Bisping shoots for a takedown and scores. Stann back up, stuffs a takedown, lands a right to end the fight. Too little, too late for the “All-American.” 10-9 round for Bisping.
The judges score the fight 29-28, 29-28, and 29-28 for the winner by unanimous decision, Michael “The Count” Bisping.
UFC Flyweight Championship (125 lbs.):
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (15-2-1, 3-1-1 UFC) vs. Joseph Benavidez (16-2, 3-0 UFC)
Benavidez connects with a hard leg kick to start. Johnson lands a good left as Benavidez comes in to clinch. The flyweights grapple for position on the cage, and Benavidez knees to the body. “Mighty Mouse” responds with two knees to the body of Benavidez. Johnson nails Benavidez with a hard right hand that has Benavidez diving at Johnson’s legs. Benavidez falls on his face but quickly stands up. Benavidez continuing to chase Johnson, but “Mighty Mouse” is slipping and dodging nearly everything. 10-9 round for Johnson.
Benavidez again the aggressor eats a couple knees to the body while clinching Johnson, who quickly escapes. Benavidez lands a couple nice right hands and a leg kick. Benavidez looking to tie up Johnson, gets ahold of him and lands a few knees to the thighs. Benavidez with some good body punches, but shoots for a takedown and gets denied. Benavidez lands a nice straight right, gets thwarted on another takedown. Benavidez charges in and swings wildly; Johnson briefly gets his back standing. Benavidez escapes and goes back to attacking. Two right hands close the round strongly for Benavidez. 10-9 round for Benavidez.
Benavidez throwing but not landing. Johnson backing up and avoiding. Good combo by Benavidez but misses badly with a head kick. Small cut on the side of Benavidez’s left eye. Clear speed advantage for Johnson, dodging most of Benavidez’s attacks. Good jab from Johnson. Hard inside leg kick from Benavidez. Johnson briefly gets taken down but then pops right back up. Benavidez still having trouble finding Johnson. Slick right hand from Johnson finds the mark. 10-9 round for Johnson.
Johnson landing good counter right hooks, very crisp with his techniques. Huge right hand by Benavidez! Swarming on Johnson now, locking up a nasty guillotine. Benavidez passes to mount and has a guillotine fully locked in with one arm. Benavidez trying to lock his hands up, can’t get his left arm clasps, and Johnson escapes. Johnson goes for a kneebar but loses it, Benavidez on top. Benavidez in side control, Johnson escapes to his feet. Benavidez tries for a takedown but fails, Johnson briefly on top. Fighters back standing, Johnson trying to take the back. Benavidez spins back, separates. Jab from Johnson. Takedown scores for Johnson. Benavidez pops up, eats a kick, but lands a good punch in reply. Another takedown scores for Johnson, now in side control. Close round, but Benavidez was very close to finishing it with the mounted guillotine. 10-9 round for Benavidez.
Final round and the fight may be up for grabs. Leg kick from Johnson, Benavidez misses with his attempted kick in return. Johnson still bobbing around, lands an explosive takedown. Benavidez gets up but “Mighty Mouse” tosses him back down. Benavidez up again, but looks much less fresh than Johnson. Benavidez misses with a murderous overhand right. Johnson working for a double leg and scores it. Lands in side control. Benavidez spins and stands up. Johnson now the aggressor, clearly controlling the final round. Good right hook from Johnson. Benavidez looks done, crowd booing. Nice straight right from Benavidez, first meaningful punch of the round for him. Johnson backs away from a Benavidez shot with ease. Benavidez misses with a spinning back fist, lands a right. Johnson shoots for a takedown, but it is stuffed. Crowd boos as the fight ends. 10-9 round for Johnson.
The judges score the fight 48-47, 47-48, and 49-46 for the winner by split decision, and the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship (205 lbs.):
Jon “Bones” Jones (16-1, 10-1 UFC) vs. Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (21-9, 10-5 UFC)
Jones starts in his crouched stanced and as he stands Vitor just misses with a head kick. Jones shoots and scores a takedown. Vitor off his back transitions into an explosive armbar. It’s locked in deep and Jones is in deep trouble. The arm is hyperextended, Jones trying to power out, big struggle for the tap. Jones escapes. Wow. Vitor back in guard. Jones now starting to land elbows to the head. More vicious elbows cut Vitor open. Jones controlling Vitor with nasty ground and pound, all inside the guard. 10-9 round for Jones.
Jones lands a nice straight right hand. Jones starting to land a front side kick to Vitor’s knee over and over. Vitor rushes in but misses with two left hands. Jones back to the side kick to the thigh of Vitor. More leg kicks from Jones, controlling Vitor completely now. Jones swings and misses with two powerful hooks. Vitor not doing anything offensively. Jones misses a front kick to the face, but lands another front side kick to the thigh. Good combo from Jones. Nice right hook from Vitor, finally. Vitor with a big knee to the body, but then questionably pulls guard. Jones back to the elbows from inside Belfort’s guard. Looks like Vitor trying to set up a submission but can’t get it started. 10-9 round for Jones
Jones back to his kicking attack, controlling the distance. Vitor looking tired and old. Outside leg kick from the champ. Vitor with a decent right hand counter. Side kick to the body hurts Belfort bad, who crumbles to his back. Jones stands over him and delivers an axe kick to the body, then jumps in guard and lands an elbow to the body. Vitor tying him up while he recovers and survives. Jones lets Belfort back up. Nice right hand by Jones. Vitor clinches Jones, then pulls guard again. Vitor resting on his back, Jones elbowing to the head. “Bones” starting to land more and more elbows, finishes the round strong. 10-9 round for Jones.
Jones looking way fresher, keeping up his fast-twitch movement. Vitor lands a couple left punches, but then inexplicably pulls guard. This time Jones passes to side control, locks up a perfect keylock, and cranks Vitor’s arm for the tap.
Jon “Bones” Jones wins by submission (Americana) at 0:54 of Round 4.