UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort Saturday, September 22 – 11:45 p.m. ET
Air Canada Centre – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Jon Jones (16-1) vs. Vitor Belfort (21-9) Light Heavyweight Championship bout
Line: Jones -850, Belfort +550
After a long wait and a canceled event, Jon “Bones” Jones will finally look to defend his light heavyweight belt once again, facing Vitor Belfort as the marquee fight on UFC 152’s main card Saturday night in Toronto.
Since taking the belt in UFC 128 with a TKO over Mauricio Rua, Jones has defended his title three times, beating Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. Belfort owned the UFC light heavyweight belt all the way back in 2004, but held it only for that one fight and has mostly fought as a middleweight since then. Last year he challenged the best in the game—Anderson Silva—for the middleweight title, only to be dispatched in 3:25. Ultimately, Belfort is taking one for the team at UFC here by accepting this fight on short notice, although he appears to have such a thin chance. That is reflected in the lines where he is a heavy, heavy underdog. But since his loss to Silva, he has won two fights in a row in the first round and perhaps he will benefit from the transition back to the light heavyweight division. And as dominant as Jones is, playing on him with such extremely short lines is discouraging when Belfort maintains the potential to end fights early with a KO or submission as he has done recently. Take the money and BELFORT in this one.
In Jones’ past four fights, all in which he put his title on the line, he has displayed what makes him such an incredibly good fighter. He can find his opponents’ weakness and capitalize, winning whichever way suits him best. He defeated Rua by TKO, Jackson and Machida by submission and outlasted Evans via unanimous decision. At 6-foot-4, he owns a four-inch height advantage over Belfort and is an incredible wrestler to go with that size. He’s also 25 years old, a decade younger than Belfort. Jones’ Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai complete his game, but his elite takedown defense is what truly makes opponents stand in awe of him. Still, as the chalkiest of chalk, play against here.
In his past two fights, “The Phenom” Belfort earned a KO against Yoshihiro Akiyama and a submission against Anthony Johnson. While neither of those fighters is close to the caliber of fighter Jones is, it was good to see the 35-year-old Belfort dispatch them with no problem. His top-notch Jiu Jitsu background gives him a chance for a submission at any point, while his boxing is powerful and the base of his game. If he can keep Jones at bay with solid strikes, anything can happen here.