Previewing Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort and September's 10 Best UFC Fights

Sean SmithAnalyst ISeptember 6, 2012

Previewing Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort and September's 10 Best UFC Fights

0 of 10

    With the cancellation of UFC 151, the UFC's September schedule shrank from three events to two. However, the month still holds some great fights in store for MMA fans and will even showcase many of the bouts originally for the UFC 151 fight card.

    Most notably, Jon Jones' fourth fight as light heavyweight champion has simply been pushed to the following event, UFC 152, and will now be contested against Vitor Belfort. While Belfort may not be deserving of a light heavyweight title fight, he was one of the few to accept a bout against Jones on short notice and poses a threat to the champion in the stand-up department.

    While every Jones bout is highly anticipated as he sets his eyes on the record books, his matchup against Belfort isn't even the most intriguing fight of the month. These are the 10 biggest UFC bouts in September.

10. Igor Pokrajac vs. Vinny Magalhaes

1 of 10

    When: Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET on FX

    Where: UFC 152 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada

     

    Since being released from the UFC, The Ultimate Fighter runner-up Vinny Magalhaes has won seven of his past eight fights and became M-1 Global's light heavyweight champion. The UFC brass took notice of Magalhaes' success and invited him back to the Octagon for a bout against Igor Pokrajac.

    A world champion in jiu-jitsu, Magalhaes is one of the better grapplers in the sport. If he can show some improvement with his striking in his second run with the UFC, the 28-year-old Brazilian could become a staple in the 205-pound division for years to come.

    It is clear Magalhaes won't be given any breaks in his second go-around with the UFC, though. Pokrajac is a tough opponent with the wrestling to possibly avoid going to the ground against Magalhaes. The Croatian is also a winner of three straight bouts and will be looking to make a statement in this fight in order to earn a big step up in competition.  

9. John Hathaway vs. John Maguire

2 of 10

    When: Sept. 29 at 4 p.m. ET on Fuel TV

    Where: UFC on Fuel TV 5 at Air Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England

     

    In May, John Hathaway returned from a one-year absence due to injuries and showed no signs of rust in a dominant win over Pascal Krauss. Though many consider Hathaway one big win away from becoming a Top 10 welterweight, the Englishman has been matched up against another rising British fighter who is still looking to make a name for himself in the UFC's 170-pound division.

    John Maguire has won in his first two trips to the Octagon and appears a formidable opponent for most welterweights when on the ground. Maguire will provide an excellent test for Hathaway as the latter works his way back up the welterweight ladder after his recent hiatus.

8. Paul Sass vs. Matt Wiman

3 of 10

    When: Sept. 29 at 4 p.m. ET on Fuel TV

    Where: UFC on Fuel TV 5 at Air Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England

     

    With three first-round submissions in his first three UFC bouts, 24-year-old Paul Sass is beginning to look like a future lightweight contender. Competing in his home country of England at UFC on Fuel TV 5, Sass will have the chance to test himself against Matt Wiman, who has only loss against Dennis Siver in his past five fights and has never been submitted.

    If Sass can become the first fighter to force a tap from Wiman, this could be the fight that launches the British grappler to the next level. Whether you're a fan of British MMA or are simply interested in witnessing one of the sport's next stars make his rise to the top, you won't want to miss this fight. 

7. Brad Pickett vs. Yves Jabouin

4 of 10

    When: Sept. 29 at 4 p.m. ET on Fuel TV

    Where: UFC on Fuel TV 5 at Air Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England

     

    Since dropping to the bantamweight division, Yves Jabouin is unbeaten in three fights, and he will now receive the opportunity to make waves against an opponent who is widely regarded as a Top 10 135-pound fighter.

    In his past 13 fights, Brad Pickett has only lost against interim champion Renan Barao and Scott Jorgensen. The British bantamweight holds wins over top flyweight contender Demetrious Johnson, Ivan Menjivar and Vaughan Lee, so a Jabouin win at UFC on Fuel TV 5 could catapult the Tristar Gym fighter into contender status. 

6. Matt Hamill vs. Vladimir Matyushenko

5 of 10

    When: Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. ET on Pay-Per-View

    Where: UFC 152 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada

     

    Following an August 2011 loss to Alexander Gustafsson, Matt Hamill retired from MMA. However, slightly more than one year later, Hamill is already priming for a return to the sport. At UFC 152, Hamill will battle Vladimir Matyushenko, who is also coming off of a long layoff after a loss to Gustafsson.  

    Hamill and Matyushenko both come from solid wrestling backgrounds, but neither fighter is hesitant to stand and bang. Whether this fight stays standing or goes to the ground, it should be an exciting one and will be plenty emotional for both fighters, as Hamill makes his comeback and the 41-year-old Matyushenko nears retirement.

5. Stefan Struve vs. Stipe Miocic

6 of 10

    When: Sept. 29 at 4 p.m. ET on Fuel TV

    Where: UFC on Fuel TV 5 at Air Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England

     

    The main event of UFC on Fuel TV 5 will feature a battle between up-and-coming heavyweights Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic. Miocic is undefeated in nine career fights, so he'll be looking for double-digits in the win column against Struve, who is currently riding a three-fight winning streak.

    Possessing one of the longest reaches in UFC history, Struve has immense potential, but holes in his striking defense have caused problems him against elite competition. With some of the better boxing in the division, Miocic will test Struve's weakness and could earn himself a matchup with a heavyweight contender if he is able to knock out out his towering Dutch opponent.

4. Cub Swanson vs. Charles Oliveira

7 of 10

    When: Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. ET on Pay-Per-View

    Where: UFC 152 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada

     

    Dynamic and exciting featherweights Cub Swanson and Charles Oliveira are quickly rising toward the top of the 145-pound division, so their meeting at UFC 152 could put the winner very close to a title shot.

    Since losing in his UFC debut, Swanson scored second-round stoppages against George Roop and Ross Pearson in his past two fights. Oliveira has been equally hot, winning back-to-back bouts since dropping to the featherweight division after a loss to lightweight contender Donald Cerrone.

    If not Knockout of the Night or Submission of the Night, this matchup has Fight of the Night written all over it. Many fans will tune into UFC 152 wanting to see Jon Jones, but the fight those fans most remember from the event may this one between Swanson and Oliveira. 

3. Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann

8 of 10

    When: Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. ET on Pay-Per-View

    Where: UFC 152 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada

     

    Michael Bisping may have lost his last fight against Chael Sonnen, but the Englishman is closer to a title shot than just about any middleweight not named Chris Weidman. Bisping's loss to Sonnen was controversial, and the judges' decision spoiled what could have been the British fighter's first shot at a UFC championship.

    With an impressive win over Brian Stann, Bisping would find himself right back in the hunt for a meeting with 185-pound champion Anderson Silva. Since Silva is seemingly waiting for a bout with Georges St-Pierre, a Bisping victory could mean a meeting with Weidman to determine the next top contender in the middleweight division.

2. Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort

9 of 10

    When: Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. ET on Pay-Per-View

    Where: UFC 152 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada

     

    Jon Jones could have competed in the biggest UFC fight on September's schedule. Say what you will about the fight with Chael Sonnen that was offered to Jones or the light heavyweight champion's decision to turn it down, but that was a matchup that would have drawn a massive audience.

    Instead, Jones now finds himself in a bout with Vitor Belfort, a middleweight who was barely being mentioned among the candidates for a title shot in the 185-pound division. 

    Fans will still tune in as Jones attempts to tie Chuck Liddell and Frank Shamrock with his fourth consecutive light heavyweight title defense, but there certainly won't be as much anticipation for this bout, as there would have been for a fight between Jones and Sonnen.

1. Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson

10 of 10

    When: Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. ET on Pay-Per-View

    Where: UFC 152 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada

     

    The UFC will crown a new champion at UFC 152, where former bantamweight title contenders Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson will square off in hopes of capturing the flyweight title.

    Benavidez knocked out Yasuhiro Urushitani to earn his spot in the title fight, while it took Johnson two tries to dispose of Ian McCall in the semifinal round of a four-man tournament that was set up to determine the UFC's first ever 125-pound titleholder.

    Since the division was introduced, flyweight fighters have provided some of the most action-packed fights inside the Octagon. This matchup will be no different, as the longtime contenders will leave everything in the cage in order to capture UFC gold for the first time.