Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort: Each Fighter's Defining MMA Moment
Joe Montana to Dwight Clark.
The Immaculate Reception.
Jordan's flu game.
Great athletes have defining moments, and MMA fighters are no different. The two combatants in tonight's main event at UFC 152 have been in some legendary wars, but there can be only one truly "defining" moment for each man.
Which moment sticks out among the rest? How do you summarize a man's career if forced to choose just one instance among a line littered with significant points?
Start the slideshow to see.
Vitor Belfort: Front Kick to the Face
A defining moment does not have to be positive, and this is the case for tonight's challenger, Vitor Belfort.
Belfort isn't and never was a truly elite fighter, and his UFC 126 bout against middleweight champion Anderson Silva showcased this fact perfectly. With so many people talking about Vitor's dynamite hands and his murderous power (just like they are now, mind you), Silva showed the world exactly what Belfort had to offer top-level competition.
Just when everybody was ready to say Belfort was "back" and we could finally see the real Vitor, Silva sent his foot through his face, crushing the hype once and for all...or so we thought.
Now, people are giving Belfort the same chance against Jon Jones, and I am here to remind you of what happened the last time we thought Belfort was a championship-caliber fighter.
Yes, I realize he has won the UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight championships before, but that was a completely different era. Add in the fact that his light heavyweight championship victory was a fluke, and you get the real Vitor Belfort in a nutshell.
I have nothing against Belfort as a person, but I fail to see him as the wrecking machine he is perceived to be by a majority of fight fans.
Defining Moment: Ending up on the wrong end of Anderson Silva's most spectacular knockout to date
Vitor Belfort: Potential Defining Moment
Excuse me for one second while I find my crystal ball. Ahh, there we are.
Belfort's past failures aside, let us take a moment to be a bit kinder to the man. He busts his butt day-in and day-out to perform for us inside the Octagon, so let us cast him in a more flattering light.
Can Vitor Belfort redefine himself and emerge as a true legend?
Yes, he can. If he beats Jon Jones tonight, that victory will automatically become his defining moment as a mixed martial artist, and it will forever justify all the hype and praise that has surrounded him since his professional debut.
Is it likely? Nope, but it can happen, and if it does, I will happily devour my plate of crow I have so tastefully prepared myself.
Potential Defining Moment: Defeating Jon Jones and capturing the UFC light heavyweight championship (again)
Jon Jones: Defeating Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua, Becoming Youngest Champion
Choosing Jon Jones' defining moment was decidedly easier than sifting through the inconsistencies of Vitor Belfort.
In capturing the light heavyweight championship at UFC 128, Jones became the youngest champion in UFC history, and his run to the title was absolutely legendary. Everything culminated perfectly for the young phenom, and he put on a performance that will be remembered forever for its utter perfection against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
Rua had absolutely no say in the outcome of this fight; Jones was there to take the title, and he executed at the highest of levels.
This was the fight in which the world truly saw Jon Jones' greatness, and it stands as the defining moment in his MMA career.
Jon Jones: Potential Defining Moment
Jon Jones' potential defining moment is simple: he can become the greatest fighter of all time. If the man can just keep his head on his shoulders, stay focused and continue to train hard, nobody can touch him.
His skills are absurd, and his intangibles cannot be overcome. A more dominant fighter has never stepped foot inside the UFC Octagon, and all signs point to the fact that Jones can become the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
For that, his potential defining moment moving forward will be whichever fight officially puts him past Anderson Silva on the UFC's all-time title defense list. While I have no idea who it will be against, I do expect Jon Jones to achieve this goal.
Potential defining moment: Becoming the GOAT