This Saturday night’s main event at UFC 152 is not quite the Jon Jones fight we were pining for. Still, it is not without its charms.
Vitor “I’ve still got some stuff in the basement” Belfort is the sentimental favourite going up against Jon Jones, who is almost a caricature of a villain at this point. He could scarcely be more hated if he had killed Apollo Creed in an exhibition fight.
Some will say that it’s a mismatch—a middleweight going up against a natural heavyweight who defies the natural laws to make the 205-pound limit. Frankly, those people would not necessarily be wrong. There is a certain freak show vibe to the main event at the Air Canada Centre.
Look, I’m not saying that this is Fedor vs. Hong-man Choi, but it’s about as close to a freak show as the UFC has come since James Toney writhed around on his back like a capsized turtle against Randy Couture.
Dana White has struggled to justify putting this match together, opting to defend it with the kind of boisterous conviction that even a seasoned satirist would deem absurd. Then again, does he really need to defend it?
The UFC’s injury/withdrawal issues are almost legendary at this point. Who can blame it for scraping the bottom of the barrel to fill out one fight card? People look back on the Pride FC days with a kind of wistful longing, so we can forgive Dana and Co. for getting a little nutty this time.
As was alluded to earlier, this fight is far from irredeemable. MMA fans love an underdog.
They will get behind Stephan Bonnar against Anderson Silva, and you can bet that they will get behind Vitor Belfort later tonight.
Although the odds are stacked against him, it’s not as though the “Phenom” is taking a knife to a gun fight. The former heavyweight tournament champion hits like a truck.
Should he land one of those ferocious paws on Jones’ whiskers, expect the champ’s spindly legs to turn to boiled spaghetti. If they don’t, we may well wonder if “Bones” actually has a weakness.
Love him or hate him, we all love to watch Jon Jones fight. The UFC could put him in the cage with Verne Troyer and we’d still probably tune in.
As is the case with GSP and Silva, when Jon Jones headlines a fight card, it is increasingly becoming an event that transcends the sport as we perceive it day to day. We get the privilege of seeing this rare athlete compete maybe three times per year—or four if we’re talking about 2011.
Do you really need me to tell you why this fight is worthy of your time? If not for its competitive edge, then for the chance to witness a truly gifted athlete do what he does best.