Though it was an Americana that cinched the fight for Jones, a failed armbar from Belfort will probably prove more memorable. Belfort locked on the hold in the first round and hyperextended Jones' arm.
"He got that armbar in every way, shape and form," Jones told broadcaster Joe Rogan after the fight. "I've never had my arm pop like that before, but I've worked too hard to give up...I was honestly waiting for it to break. I wasn't going to tap. I've never felt that way before."
Almost immediately after Belfort relinquished the hold, Jones used an elbow strike to open a cut over Belfort's right eye. Belfort's momentum began to leak away as quickly as it had come, and the fight began to swing inexorably to Jones.
In the second round, Belfort appeared to focus on defense at the expense of offense, most notably his trademark power flurries. Belfort seemed hesitant to exchange, preferring to clinch with Jones or pull guard.
Jones took Belfort down in the fourth round and achieved a mounted crucifix. He grabbed one of Belfort's arms, torqued hard and elicited the submission.
What we'll remember about this fight:
Man, that armbar attempt. If Jones had tapped—and no one would have blinked if he had—this would have been the biggest upset in UFC history.
What we learned about Vitor Belfort:
He probably earned a free pass with MMA fans forever.
If you believe in moral victories, then a loser can't be much more victorious than Vitor Belfort at UFC 152. One of the largest main-event underdogs ever defied the odds by simply getting Jones in trouble. And not just any trouble. Probably the deepest singular moment of trouble the great Jon Jones has ever faced inside the Octagon.
Still, Belfort almost seemed to concede the fight once the armbar failed. It would have been great to watch Belfort challenge Jones with boxing.
What we learned about Jon Jones:
He doesn't tap. At least not easily. Jones himself admitted he had never been put in that position in the cage. Give credit where it's due: Jones didn't win this fight because of anything flashy. He won it because of sheer teeth-gritting toughness.
What's next for Belfort:
Back to your regularly scheduled program, I guess. He's been a good soldier in taking the fight on short notice, and so deserves a quality matchup when he returns to middleweight. I'd vote for the winner between Alan Belcher and Yushin Okami at UFC 153. Winner gets a shot at one of Anderson Silva's annual middleweight title defenses.
What's next for Jones:
On to the next one.
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