UFC 152 Results: The Real Winners and Losers
It feels like it has been months since we've seen the toughest athletes in the world step into the legendary UFC Octagon. Thanks to the cancellation of UFC 151, it's been 44 days since fans have been able to see a good old fashioned cage fight. We were raring to go—and UFC 152 didn't disappoint.
There were 12 fights on the card, so technically 12 different men walked out of the arena a "winner." But sometimes winning and losing is much more complicated than that.
A fighter can lose with his hand raised high if he fails to meet expectations or bores the crowd out of their collective skulls. Likewise, a loser can gain plenty with a valiant effort.
So, who were the real winner and losers at UFC 152? Let's explore the issue together.
Winner: Jon Jones
It was harder than expected, but that only speaks to what kind of performance we've come to demand from the great Jon Jones.
It took him four rounds to beat Vitor Belfort, but he won every single one of them. There was a scare early, when Belfort caught him with an armbar. Jones toughed it out and survived, managing to win the round in the process with dangerous ground and pound that opened a bad cut over Belfort's right eye.
After the first, Belfort shut down, pulling guard rather than looking to land punches. Jones made him pay the iron price, pounding away with elbows, kicking him in the leg over and over again and eventually submitting him with an Americana.
Belfort can hold his head high. Jones was too much for him. He might be too much for any man. But the old lion showed he could still roar.
Winner and Loser: Demetrious Johnson
Johnson became the first ever UFC flyweight champion. But his performance split the MMA fanbase. While some enjoyed the speed and defensive technique, many found the fight a little boring.
I will admit to not enjoying the bout much. I respect the ability of both Johnson and his opponent, Joseph Benavidez, but I understand why the Air Canada Centre crowd in Toronto was booing heavily. The fight was a defensive contest from the start, and besides one Benavidez choke attempt, neither fighter was ever close to finishing the bout.
Never close, in fact, to even attempting to finish. Johnson's coach Matt Hume told him to start fighting going into the fourth round. That's not a typo. What Johnson was doing before that was smooth and interesting, but I agree with his coach—it wasn't fighting.
Recent research showed that smaller fighters are less likely to finish bouts than their larger comrades. It looks like the flyweights will be no exception.
Johnson will strap a UFC title around his tiny waist. But, judging by the crowd reaction, he won't be able to carry a pay-per-view on his back.
Winner: Michael Bisping
Bisping had a scary moment in the first round. Brian Stann caught him with a big right hand and wobbled him. It was essentially the only chance Stann had to win the fight—and he almost took it.
Otherwise, it was all Bisping. He controlled the fight with a great jab and some strong takedowns. Stann was no match for him in the wrestling department and the American's standup seemed to consist only of a weak leg kick and a big right hand.
Bisping has never fought for the UFC title. I think a fight with Anderson Silva would do big business in England. Bisping would get smashed, but I think it's a whooping the "Count" has earned thanks to his years of service to the company.
Winner and Loser: Matt Hamill
Matt Hamill should have stayed retired. Yes, technically he won the fight against Roger Hollett. But he bored me for 15 long minutes in the process and looked pedestrian against a fighter who doesn't belong in the major leagues.
The crowd booed his performance, but the deaf wrestler was blissfully unaware. Anyone know the appropriate sign language to express a raucous boo? If you do, I demand you execute it.
Boo this man! Boo him good.
Winner: Cub Swanson
I'm done doubting. Cub Swanson is a threat to put anybody's lights out in the featherweight division.
He's a pure power puncher, always looking to finish. Swanson dropped highly touted prospect Charles Oliveira with ease, landing a body shot that stunned him and a punch to the temple that had the Brazilian rolling on the mat in agony.
When idiots complain about coach Greg Jackson producing "boring" fighters, Jackson should carry around a DVD of Swanson fights to throw dismissively at his critics.
Winner and Loser: Vinny Magalhães
It was a great return to the Octagon for Vinny Magalhães, a submission specialist who tapped out the hard-nosed Igor Pokrajac in the second round. His sickening armbar was a clear "win."
Less great were the five—count them, five—different ways former blogging All-Star Mike Fagan and I heard announcers Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg pronounce the Brazilian's last name. Ring announcer Bruce Buffer added at least one more.
Maybe by the time he comes back to the cage, the announcers will have come up with one pronunciation, right or wrong, and stick with it.
Winners: Evan Dunham and T.J. Grant
These two guys put on the kind of fight Chris Lytle or Marcus Davis would be proud of. Diego Sanchez and Jorge Gurgel were sitting somewhere with mouths agape. Even Arturo Gatti gave it a thumbs up from fighter heaven.
It was that kind of bloody slugfest, the kind that requires announcer Joe Rogan to tell the audience at home that a hunk of Vaseline covered in blood has landed on the announcers table.
Grant made vampires salivate with a knee that split Dunham's forehead wide open and the rest of the fight was contested with blood and sweat flying everywhere. The Canadian Grant had his hand raised in the end, but it was a fight no one could possibly lose in the minds of fans worldwide.
Losers: Jon Jones and Joe Rogan
Jon Jones is trying to make lemonade out of a bunch of lemons. Possibly, considering the circumstances, that "hard lemonade" you drink when even light beer is too manly for you.
The point? Sometimes you just have to swallow the bitter with the sweet.
Jones made a huge mistake earlier this year, wrecking his Bentley and putting his passengers and other drivers at great risk. He should simply apologize, change his behavior and move on with his life, wiser and less dangerous to the world around him.
Instead, Jones looked for the silver lining. And, in typical Jones fashion, it isn't the right one.
"My DUI set me free," Jones said. "It set me free from a lot of expectations. I was trying to be perfect for people. That's why people called me fake. I was trying to be the golden boy of the UFC."
He didn't tout a new appreciation for the sanctity of human life until later in the interview. It felt like an afterthought. It's clear the biggest impact his DUI had on him was "setting him free."
That's the wrong lesson and a pretty clear indication of rampant narcissism.
I'm amazed someone encouraged Jones to go on television with this material. I'm amazed the UFC and FX allowed it. Remarkably bad judgement shown by all parties here. I don't think this was the time to dredge up a situation that is months old at this point.
Jones, more than anything else, needs to go back to being an athlete. With a microphone in front of him, he's a walking disaster. In the Octagon, he's one of the best we've ever seen.
Focus on your strengths, Jones, and hit the next person who suggests you bare your soul on national television with a spinning elbow.
Loser: Charlie Brenneman
When Charlie Brenneman beat the tough Rick Story, I thought the fighter with the largest white-man 'fro in the sport was on his way to a possible title shot in the UFC welterweight division.
That was just over a year ago, though for Brenneman it must feel like a lifetime.
Unfortunately for the wrestler, MMA years can be like dog years. Instead of fame and fortune, Brenneman has lost three of four fights in that span. And after losing the opener against Kyle Noke in just 45 seconds, is in danger of getting cut from the UFC.
Loser: Dan Miragliotta
Referees have a tough job. I know I wouldn't want it. MMA action is fast and furious, punches and kicks flying willy nilly. It's easy to sit outside the cage and criticize officials who are making split-second decisions.
That's why I'm going to do it.
Charlie Brenneman got tagged by Kyle Noke. He was hurt. But the fight was still going on. Brenneman was gearing up to make a last-ditch charge when Dan Miragliotta stepped in a second or three too soon.
No, it's not easy. But too much rides on each and every win or loss for mistakes to be permissible. Miragliotta owns Brenneman a better performance.