UFC 152 marks the beginning of a string of "must-see" UFC pay-per-views. Featuring two title fights, the card is stacked from top to bottom. It's the first card since the UFC 151 debacle and will be Jon Jones' fourth title defense. His opponent, Vitor Belfort, is a former UFC light heavyweight champion and has been one of the most beloved fighters in the promotion.
The co-main event will decide the first UFC flyweight champion as Demetrious Johnson takes on Joseph Benavidez. Both Johnson and Benavidez were challengers for the UFC bantamweight belt before dropping to flyweight.
Michael Bisping and Brian Stann will also lock horns in a middleweight bout. Both fighters have been on the cusp of the middleweight top 10, and a win this weekend will help cement their arguments as being top guys in the UFC.
With some staff off in Toronto covering the event live, we bring you the abridged version of the staff predictions.
Jonathan Snowden: I've finally forgiven Swanson for losing to a washed-up Jens Pulver in 35 seconds. That was four-and-a-half years ago, so I think it's safe to pick him again. And the way he's been dropping fools, I wouldn't want to be Oliveira right now. Swanson by knockout, Round 1.
Matt Roth: Cub Swanson has been on a bit of a tear lately, and some have attributed it to him finally finding his groove. I’ll say it’s because he hits really %*$@ing hard. I expect him to continue that on Saturday against “Do Bronx,” who has a suspect chin. Really though, anyone would have a suspect chin after getting punched in the face by Cub Swanson. Swanson by TKO in the first.
Scott Harris: Swanson’s a fun fighter and all, and he always has a puncher’s chance, but I don’t think he’ll have enough against a fighter as good as Oliveira. Oliveira will also be extra motivated for this one, I think, as a win here puts him at 3-0 at 145 and qualifies him for contender status. At some point, Swanson will get reckless and wade in, and at that point, he will get punished. Oliveira by submission, Round 2.
Jonathan Snowden: Normally I don't like the chances of a guy who just a few months ago was retired and sipping Mai Tais. But Hamill's opponent here is a guy on the main card mostly because of geography. If Hollett were from Boise, Idaho, he'd just be that one guy on the prelims. Since he's from Canada, he's on the main card. I got Hamill. Hamill, stoppage, Round 2.
Matt Roth: Who the heck is Roger Hollett? Seriously, I’m asking. I’ve never heard of the guy. Hamill has the UFC experience and a name that I know, so I’m gonna say that Matt Hamill wins by TKO in the second.
Scott Harris: I have no reason to watch this fight. Totally lacking implications. Both men appear to be on the main card for their storylines, not their actual fighting bona fides. I have no idea who Roger Hollett is, so Hamill gets the nod by default. Hamill by unanimous decision.
Jonathan Snowden: Today I heard that Stann, who has spent a career draped in the American flag, doesn't want to use his war record to promote his fights. It's kind of hard to put that genie back in the bubble, isn't it? Stann has a chance to put Bisping's lights out, but he'll need to land the perfect shot. Otherwise, "The Count" is just too skilled in all areas. Bisping via decision.
Matt Roth: Seriously, I’m not sure how I feel about this fight, especially if it has title implications. Stann has the obvious advantage in knockout power, while Bisping has the clear advantage in footwork and combinations. I think I’ll pick Bisping because in my mind he’s the better fighter. Michael Bisping by unanimous decision.
Scott Harris: Everyone loves Michael Bisping all of a sudden. Good for him; he’s been underrated for a long time. I don’t think he’s going to use his skills the right way here. I don’t see him taking Stann to the ground. And I don’t see him avoiding or absorbing the big shot. If he proves this theory wrong, good for him. But he’ll need to prove it. Stann by KO, Round 2.
Jonathan Snowden: Two men whose combined weight holding hands at a Coldplay concert equals one Brock Lesnar, battling for a brand-new UFC title belt? Call me skeptical. I think Johnson might surprise people here. He's a hard worker, and I don't think Benanvidez can keep up with him. Johnson by decision.
Matt Roth: I love this fight. I really do. So much so that as a fan I’m just hoping that it lives up to whatever expectations I have in my head. I think Benavidez is just better at everything, though Johnson may have a slight speed advantage. Ultimately this is Joseph Benavidez’s fight to lose. Benavidez by TKO in the second round.
Scott Harris: I’m looking forward to this fight more than any other on the card. No question these are the best two fighters on Earth in their weight class. Benavidez is a force in all phases, but I think Johnson has the ground game to stay out of trouble and the pure speed to outscore Benavidez on the feet. Sound the upset alarms. Johnson by split decision.
Jonathan Snowden: To anyone picking Belfort, allow me to give a you a hearty "c'mon son!" There's no way Jones doesn't smash his face in. Jones, stoppage, Round 1.
Matt Roth: This is probably the easiest fight ever to pick, but I still wouldn’t be all that surprised if there’s an upset. It’s just how I am. I always allow an out. But I’ll commit and say that Jon Jones does whatever he wants, when he wants, to Vitor Belfort on Saturday night. Jon Jones by third-round TKO.
Scott Harris: I can’t help but repeatedly picture Greg Jackson in the corner, telling Jones things like, “Just pretend he’s Twitter.” Jon Jones, murder, Round 1.