Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort: A Deeper Look
By Brian Lopez-Benchimol
While the flyweights were set to take center stage this weekend, it was Jon Jones who ultimately stole the top spot, thanks to an unfortunate chain of “he said, she said” just a few weeks ago.
Beaten to death like a resurrected zombie-horse, Jones famously stole headlines recently when the light heavyweight kingpin turned down a fight with Chael Sonnen, who stepped in on short notice for an injured Dan Henderson at UFC 151.
Although Sonnen had only eight days to prepare for the contest, Jones and co. saw it fit to decline the fight, which caused the head honchos of the UFC to ultimately nix the event altogether, creating bad feelings all across the mixed martial arts landscape.
Jones was ultimately targeted to spear head UFC 152, over the UFC’s inaugural flyweight championship bout pitting Joseph Benavidez against Demetrious Johnson. Jones’ new opponent came as a surprise, as former middleweight title challenger Vitor Belfort ultimately filled the void after fellow Brazilians Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua both infamously turned down the match-up with Jones.
For all his shortcomings, what Belfort does represent is a man on a mission. “The Phenom” takes pride in depicting himself as one of the originals, hailing from the “old school” days of the UFC, where at 19-years-old Belfort became a UFC heavyweight tournament champion, blitzing through Tra Telligman and Scott Ferrozzo in a combined two minutes of action. That same flash and seemingly limitless well of potential is exactly what we see with Jones, who has remained, for all intents purposes, undefeated in his 17 fights as a professional.
Belfort knows full and well the pitfalls that come with high expectations, though he contends it’s those same disappointments that make him a better man and fighter. Lackluster performances against Randy Couture and Alistair Overeem had many questioning Belfort’s place in MMA today.
However, since moving down to 185-pounds, Belfort has resurrected his career, garnering but one blemish in his past 6-fights. There’s no shame in losing to pound-for-pound great Anderson Silva, this much we can be sure of.
Vitor’s hand speed, knockout power and underrated jiu-jitsu prowess are hard to match, but the blue print exists in defeating Belfort, and unfortunately for him, Jones’ strengths play into those weaknesses.
“Bones” Jones has shown that he can hang in deep waters, taking both Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans into those championship rounds in recent performances. His overbearing wrestling is nothing to shake a stick at, as Jones has been able to make relatively good grapplers look novice in comparison.
His exciting array of elbow attacks leave his opponents honest, as both Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko can attest to, having been victimized inside of the first round thanks to Jones’ hellish ground-and-pound attacks.
Belfort is quick out the gate, but fades as the fight wears on. He’s great in dominant positions on the ground, but once he’s pressured from mounting blows from up top, he crumbles under the pressure.
Expect Jones to stay on the outside, thanks to his 84-inch reach, keeping Belfort at bay with his jab and kicks galore. Once Belfort tires, Jones will bring the fight to the canvas where the end is just an elbow or two away from declaring Bones the winner via knockout.