Young gun vs. old lion, new school vs. old school.
It's no secret that Belfort is the heavy underdog, taking the fight on short notice and moving up a weight class after an injury to Dan Henderson forced the cancellation of UFC 151. It's going to be hard for the Brazilian to overtake "Bone's" throne, but there's a reason why he's a former champ, and anything can happen in MMA.
Let's take a look at the head-to-toe breakdown of this momentous light-heavyweight bout.
"Bones" and Belfort are two very different types of strikers.
Belfort is more of a boxer, possessing both technical superiority and knockout power in his heavy hands. Rarely will you see "the Phenom" throw fancy kicks or a complex combination.
You will, however, see Belfort try to swarm his opponents with an array of punching combinations. He's not wild with his strikes, but when Belfort smells blood, you can bet he's going in for the kill.
Jones is way more creative than Belfort and can pull off a slew of crazy techniques thanks to his long arms and legs. The champ likes to keep his distance and pick his opponents apart, frustrating them into making mistakes.
Against Belfort, that will be a huge factor because Jones will have to keep the Brazilian at bay or else risk getting clipped on the inside.
Both guys are knockout threats despite being vastly different strikers, so this one is pretty much even.
There's no question that Jones is the superior wrestler in this matchup.
Belfort is a jiu-jitsu player with decent takedown defense, but against a guy like Jones, he will almost certainly end up on his back.
The Brazilian was easily taken down by Anthony Johnson in his last bout at UFC 142 and, thanks to his active guard and BJJ skills, was able to escape from the bottom position before choking Johnson out.
Against Jones, this will be extremely difficult to pull off, and it is very unlikely that Belfort will look for the takedown.
My advice to Belfort—keep it standing.
You'd think that a former ADCC bronze medalist and BJJ black belt like Belfort would have an edge in this category.
Sadly for the Brazilian, that's just not the case.
Belfort has only three submission wins on his resume and, prior to his UFC 142 win over Anthony Johnson, had not submitted an opponent since Pride 13 in 2001.
Jones, while lacking the jiu-jitsu experience, has won nearly half his fights by submission, including big tap-out wins over Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson and Ryan Bader.
With his long arms and legs as well as his great wrestling skills, Jones is a force on the ground and gets the nod in this department.
The one thing you won't see from Belfort is a boring, five-round fight.
The former champ hasn't gone to a decision since 2007 and hasn't left the first round in his last five fights.
While an impressive streak, it doesn't say much about Belfort's cardio, which could be a major factor if he goes into the later rounds with Jones.
The reigning light-heavyweight king has gone into the deeper rounds, fighting to a decision against Rashad Evans in his last bout, so don't expect Jones to gas.
Strength-wise, Belfort is a bit more muscular, but overall, Jones is the stronger, more athletic fighter.
The one area that Belfort can claim all for his own is in the experience department.
Belfort has been fighting since the age of 19, debuting against Jon Hess at SuperBrawl 2 in 1996. The Brazilian has taken on everyone from Anderson Silva to Alistair Overeem, so he's seen it all in the cage.
Jones has been on an amazing run, taking out four straight former light-heavyweight champs, but big wins and championships can't duplicate the lessons learned from years of experience inside the Octagon.
Jones: For the reigning champ, his biggest factor will be not letting his ego run the show.
Jones has had to face a lot of backlash for his recent comments and actions in the wake of the canceled UFC 151. He would be wise to check his pride at the door when he steps inside the Octagon on Saturday.
Belfort, while the underdog, is still a former champ and a dangerous foe. Jones cannot take this fight lightly or else he risks the chance of giving the Brazilian an opening to capitalize on.
But if Jones stays focused and just performs like he usually performs, don't expect the belt to change hands anytime soon.
Belfort: The former champ may feel like a hero for stepping up on short notice to face Jones, but it will take more than confidence to dethrone the light-heavyweight king.
Belfort is going to come into this bout with a lot of factors not in his favor. Not only will he not have a full training camp for this fight, but he is also coming in after recovering from another injury.
Plus, it doesn't help that he's over a decade older than Jones and is at a huge reach disadvantage.
It's going to take a miracle for Belfort to take the belt, but if he can get in on Jones quick and land a plethora of punches from the inside, we may see a shocker at UFC 152.
While I'm not discounting Belfort's chances at UFC 152, there are just two many factors in Jones' favor.
The reigning champ is on a roll and is just too good in all the areas that Belfort is lacking.
I don't think this fight is going to go long, so expect a first- or second-round finish by Jones as he once again defends his crown.
Prediction: Jones via technical knockout (second round).