With two title fights, a middleweight bout with huge championship implications and one of the most stacked cards in recent memory, UFC 152 is set to be one of the biggest events of 2012.
Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is set to headline the card against long-time MMA veteran and dangerous striker Vitor Belfort, and in a rare treat, the co-main event features a second title fight between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson for the UFC’s inaugural flyweight championship.
The entire fight card is full of exciting matchups, and anyone with even the slightest interest in MMA should go out of their way to check out this card.
It seems a bit crazy that anyone who remotely follows MMA hasn’t at least heard about the fiasco that was UFC 151, but we’ll give a brief history lesson anyway.
Jon Jones was set to fight Dan Henderson at UFC 151 on September 1st.
Henderson was injured just over a week prior to fight night, and all challengers, other than former middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen, turned down an opportunity for a title shot on short notice.
However, Jones had no interest in fighting anyone other than Henderson on that date, and with insufficient time to prepare, he turned down the fight with Sonnen, and the card was subsequently cancelled.
Jones’ decision to decline the short-notice fight with Sonnen has virtually been the MMA equivalent of LeBron James signing with the Miami Heat, and “Bones” has quickly become one of the most hated fighters in the sport.
Jones was booked to fight a few weeks later at UFC 152, and after Lyoto Machida and Shogun Rua both turned down an opportunity to rematch Jones, Vitor Belfort stepped up and took the bout.
It’s reasonable to say that Vitor Belfort is the biggest underdog in a UFC title fight since Matt Serra shocked the world by knocking out Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69, and “The Phenom” doesn’t have much to lose going into this fight.
Belfort has spent much of the last few years at middleweight and has only won a couple of bouts since getting kicked in the grill by Anderson Silva at UFC 126, so expectations aren’t exactly high for Belfort at the moment.
If he decides to lay it all on the line and come after Jones, looking to finish from the opening bell, he has a chance (albeit a small one) at scoring the upset.
Jones will have a huge reach advantage on the feet, the ability to take the fight to the mat, whenever he chooses to, and an arsenal of ground and pound and submissions looking to put Belfort to sleep.
In short, Belfort could be in for a lot of trouble.
While casual fans always seem to flock toward the heavyweight division, there’s no denying that the flyweights are quickly becoming the most exciting division in the UFC.
The 125-lb weight class was added to the UFC early this year, and since that time, every single fight the promotion's smallest competitors have been in has been one of the most entertaining of the night.
Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson are both former title challengers at 135 lbs, and when the opportunity arose for the two undersized bantamweights to finally fight at their natural weight, most expected them to fight for the strap sooner or later.
No matter who wins this fight, expect a back-and-forth battle that’s fought at an incredible pace, and the end result could be one of the best fights of 2012, so far.
Brian Stann is an American war hero who decided to punch people in the face for a living after his time in the military was up.
Michael Bisping is the loudmouthed Brit who fans love to hate and discredit whenever possible.
It’s pretty clear who the fans are going to root for here.
Even though the bout is taking place on neutral territory in Canada, Bisping gets booed out of nearly every building he fights in, and Stann will have more than enough support to make this one of the most interesting fights on the card to even the most uninformed fan.
If there’s one thing everyone can understand, it’s a classic battle of good vs. evil, and Stann vs. Bisping is the closest thing to it.
After a brief retirement, Matt Hamill is ready to step back inside the Octagon.
Going into 2011, Hamill was riding a five-fight win streak with huge wins over Keith Jardine and Tito Ortiz in his last two fights, and he was rewarded with his first chance at headlining a UFC PPV event when he fought Rampage Jackson in the headlining bout of UFC 130.
Hamill had his wrestling completely shut down by Rampage and ended up losing a lopsided decision, and following a knockout loss to Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 133, he decided to hang up his gloves.
In his return bout, Hamill will face a fellow high-level wrestler in Vladimir Matyushenko, and if he is able to get back on track, he could still be a fighter to keep an eye on at 205.
On nearly any other fight card, a fight between Charles Oliveira and Cub Swanson would be the overwhelming favorite to win fight of the night honors.
Oliveira has made a habit of putting on exciting performances and has finished all four of his UFC wins by submission, but his go-for-broke style and the genuine look of enjoyment on his face when he fights have earned him a strong following amongst hardcore fans.
Swanson has been equally exciting since joining the UFC roster in November of last year, but fans have had the pleasure of watching him grow up inside the cage dating back to his tenure in the WEC where he earned three fight of the night awards.
Styles make fights, and these two both have proven to be among the most fun fighters to watch in all of MMA.
...or, at least it is on paper.
We’ve seen cards that seemed stacked before, but following the recent run of bad luck the UFC has had as of late, I have to believe that this is the card that will get things back on track again.
With the influx of events this year, fans have complained about a lack of depth on fight cards, but there’s no denying that this card is one of the most intriguing from top to bottom.
Besides the main cards that have already been mentioned, the preliminary card features one of the hottest rising prospects in the sport in Jimy Hettes, a former lightweight contender in Evan Dunham looking to get back into the mix, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Vinny Magalhaes making his return to the UFC Octagon for the first time since 2009.
Since UFC 151 crashed and burned, this card is now the only PPV event the UFC is throwing in September, and it will definitely be worth the hard-earned money you’ll need to throw down on the event.