It has been a messy period for the UFC with the cancellation of UFC 151, now UFC 152 looks to gain some of the last ground back. When Dan Henderson’s injury forced him out of the main event of UFC 151, a title fight against defending light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, Jones was offered Chael Sonnen but refused, Lyoto Machida was offered but Machida refused, and finally the show was cancelled. Now Jones faces former champion Vitor Belfort at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto September 22nd on pay-per-view.
The main event marks light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ first non-title fight since winning the title in March 2011 with a TKO of Mauricio Rua. Jones defended the title against Quinton Jackson, Machida, and most recently Rashad Evans with the Evans fight being Jones’ first to end by decision in over three years. Since returning to the UFC Belfort has gone 3-1 with a loss to middleweight champion Anderson Silva and wins over Rich Franklin, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Anthony Johnson. Both are known as well-rounded fighters while the historic issue of Belfort’s heart for fighting seems to have been resolved while Jones has never wavered, even when facing former teammate Evans. Jones is by far the odds favorite but even so it seems very unlikely a loss would have an effect on the planned fight against Henderson when “Hendo” recovers.
In the co-main event Joseph Benavidez faces Demetrious Johnson in the finals of the flyweight tournament to determine a champion. Benavidez lost a title shot in the WEC to Dominick Cruz at bantamweight by split decision two years which he followed by a win in that promotion before going 3-0 in the UFC. In the semifinals of the UFC’s flyweight tournament Benavidez defeated Yasuhiro Urushitani by TKO, a fight that won Benavidez “Knockout of the Night” bonus. Johnson also lost to Cruz for a bantamweight title but his was for the UFC title last October. Johnson’s tournament semifinal fight was against Ian McCall, the first fight being ruled a draw (which earned “Fight of the Night” bonus) in March while the rematch Johnson won by unanimous decision in June.
Also on the main card BFC vet and former MFC champion Roger Hollett makes his UFC debut on a five-fight win streak, taking on fan favorite Matt Hamill. Hollett most recently defeated John Hawk in a BFC tournament qualifier in November, arguably Hollett’s biggest fight so far. Hamill is coming off losses to Quinton Jackson and Alexander Gustafsson, both in 2011.
The main card is filled out with Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann and Charles Oliveira vs. Cub Swanson. Bisping’s latest fight was a loss to Chael Sonnen in a middleweight title eliminator, Stann who also lost to Sonnen is coming off a win over Alessio Sakara. Since dropping to featherweight Oliveira has gone 2-1 with wins over Eric Wisely and Jonathan Brookins, Johnson is 2-1 in the UFC with his most recent being a win over Ross Pearson which earned “Knockout of the Night”.
Prelims on facebook:
Charlie Brenneman vs.Kyle Noke
Mitch Gagnon vs.Walel Watson
Seth Baczynski vs.Simeon Thoresen
Prelims on Sportsnet:
Jim Hettes vs.Marcus Brimage
Lance Benoist vs.Sean Pierson
Evan Dunham vs.T.J. Grant
Igor Pokrajac vs.Vinny Magalhaes
Charles Oliveira vs.Cub Swanson
Matt Hamill vs.Roger Hollett
Michael Bisping vs.Brian Stann
Joseph Benavidez vs.Demetrious Johnson
Jon Jones vs.Vitor Belfort