After the disaster that was UFC 151, where the organisation had to cancel an entire card for the first time in its history, UFC chairman Dana White will be hoping UFC 152 delivers.
There has been much debate in the past few weeks over Jon Jones’ decision to turn down a fight with Chael Sonnen on 8 days’ notice, a decision which subsequently resulted in the collapse of UFC 151. The Light Heavyweight champion has come under a lot of flak from fans and fellow fighters and will be looking to redeem himself in UFC 152′s main event against the Brazilian Vitor Belfort.
Elsewhere on a stacked main card Featherweights Cub Swanson and Charles Oliviera square off as well as Light Heavyweights Matt Hamill and Roger Hollett. Michael Bisping will face Brian Stann with the winner likely to get a title shot at Anderson Silva and history will be made as the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion will be crowned as Joseph Benevidez faces Demetrious Johnson.
Cub Swanson vs Charles Oliveira
The main card kicks off with Cub Swanson (17-5-0) facing Charles Oliveira (16-2-0, 1NC) in an intriguing featherweight bout. Both fighters are coming off impressive wins in their last outing and will be looking to cement themselves in the upper echelons of the featherweight division.
Oliveira has a slick submissions game coupled with some dangerous Muay Thai and will pose a threat whether the fight is standing or on the mat. Ideally he would like to get Swanson to the ground and use his long limbs to lock in a submission.
Swanson is a well-rounded striker who caused an upset in defeating Brit fighter Ross Pearson in his last outing. He has won his last two by TKO and coming from Greg Jacksons academy will likely have a meticulously thought through game plan. I think he will look to dominate the stand-up side of things and use his power to hurt the Brazilian.
Prediction: I’m going with Oliveira to pull off the win by submission in the second round.
Matt Hamill vs Roger Hollett
Matt Hamill (11-4-0), a year after announcing his retirement, returns to the Octagon in a bout against Roger Hollett (13-3-0). Hollett, recently of Bellator Fighting Championships, is making his UFC debut and will undoubtedly be the underdog in this fight.
Hollett originally pulled out of this fight due to injury and was replaced by Vladimir Matyushenko. Matyushenko then subsequently pulled out and was replaced by Hollett, the man initially deemed unable to fight due to injury. The extent of the injury is unknown but it is safe to assume that Hollett’s preparation has not been ideal in the build-up to his promotional debut. Hollett has a good ground game and can also cause problems on the feet but will undoubtedly be facing the biggest test of his career in Hamill.
Hamill has fought far superior opposition than Hollett and is vastly more experienced in fighting on big main cards. He is an excellent wrestler who has also got some impressive stoppages to his name, in particular the highlight reel knockout of Mark Munoz. He will look to dictate where the fight goes and control the action against Hollet. It is worth remembering that Hamill has not fought in a year so ring rust may be a factor in this one.
Prediction: Question marks hang over both fighters but I am going with Hamill to win this one by Unanimous Decision.
Michael Bisping vs Brian Stann
The stakes could not be higher in this middleweight bout with the winner likely to get a shot at the greatest fighter of all time in Anderson Silva for the middleweight belt. This is also a firm contender for Fight of the Night with both fighters preferring to keep the fight on its feet.
Bisping (23-4-0) has been in this position before and has come up short, once in devastating fashion against Dan Henderson and twice in disputed decisions to Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen respectively. He has far more experience than Stann (12-4-0) and will look to score points on the outside whilst avoiding Stann’s power punches. Expect Bisping to have learned from Chael Sonnen’s victory over Stann and to change the levels and mix up his striking with takedowns. Bisping is the more skilled marital artist in this one but he has to avoid Stann’s power otherwise it’ll be a repeat of the Dan Henderson fight.
For Stann a number one contender matchup is new territory but the hard hitting American is unlikely to be fazed by this as he recently served active duty in Iraq. Stann always comes to fight and hits extremely hard with nine of his twelve wins coming by stoppage. Stann’s path to victory is clear, he needs to close the distance and cut off the space and let his big shots go. If he catches Bisping clean this one’s all over.
Prediction: As long as Bisping can avoid Stann’s power shots he can win this one via unanimous decision.
Joseph Benavidez vs Demetrious Johnson
History will be made in the octagon as the first ever flyweight champion will be crowned at UFC 152 as Joseph Benevidez (16-2-0) faces Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson (15-2-1). The few fights we have had in the featherweight division so far have all be fan friendly and this one should not disappoint.
Benavidez is coming off an impressive stoppage win over Yasuhiro Urushitani in the semi-finals of the flyweight tournament and has only ever been defeated by current Bantamweight Champion Dominic Cruz, a man much bigger than Benavidez. He is a very well rounded fighter and has an impressive array of strikes coupled with extremely heavy hands for a flyweight. It is unusual for a fighter that small to have knockout power but at flyweight Benavidez, a man who has rocked many bantamweights, definitely has that. He will look to close the distance quickly, negate Johnson’s superior speed and try to land his heavy shots.
Johnson may be the fastest fighter in the whole of MMA. His speed is ridiculous and he mixes up his striking with lightning fast takedowns. He will look to stay on the outside and use his speed to score shots and get out of harm’s way before Benavidez can counter. I don’t think he will be able to stop Benavidez so he will have to be fully focused for five whole rounds to take this one and become the first flyweight champion in the promotions history.
Prediction: This is the hardest one of the whole main card to call but I’m going with Benavidez to win this one by a late stoppage.
Jon Jones vs Vitor Belfort
The main event sees Jon Jones (16-1-0) defend the Light Heavyweight Championship against Vitor Belfort (21-9-0). Jones was initially meant to fight veteran Dan Henderson but will instead face another old school fighter in Belfort.
Vitor Belfort is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and holds wins against legends such as fighters such as Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin. Despite this he is the biggest underdog on the card according to the bookmakers. This is no slight on Belfort’s talent but is due to the fact he is fighting a man who may become the greatest fighter the world has ever seen, a mantle currently help by Anderson Silva. Belfort has absolutely nothing to lose in this fight and this makes him dangerous. He has knockout power in both hands and has an excellent ground game. Too many of Jones’ previous opponents have stayed on the outside and been picked off from a distance by Jones. Belfort will have to avoid this. He will have to use his speed and try to catch Jones with a big shot. Expect him to use his berserker style rush to try to close the distance and land something on the champion. If Belfort hurts Jones then the champion is in big trouble as Belfort is one of the best finishers around.
Jones has a huge advantage over every single opponent he faces in that he has the largest reach out of anyone in the UFC. This coupled with his all-round athleticism makes him the incredible fighter that he is. The sky really is the limit for Jones and he has already beaten a who’s who of the light heavyweight division. He has all the tools to beat the smaller Belfort and if he can avoid Belfort’s rushes than he should take this one. Jones will try to pick Belfort apart from range and use his wrestling to get the fight to the mat where he will try to bring his vicious elbows into play.
Prediction: Belfort is not as big an underdog as some suggest but I’m going with Jones to win this one by stoppage in Round 3.
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