UFC 152 Results & Recap – Jones subs Belfort

nullJon Jones maintained his hold on the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on Saturday with a fourth-round submission win over Vitor Belfort in the main event of UFC 152.

Jones came into the fight as the heavy favorite and he dominated most of the fight. Jones did nearly get caught in an armbar in the early going, but escaped and controlled the fight from there. Jones used his grappling and elbows to bloody up Belfort, and in the fourth round, caught the challenger in an Americana for the victory.

Belfort deserves credit for his effort and taking the fight on short notice in a bigger weight class, but Jones is just the better man.

With Dan Henderson dealing with his injury, there is no clear contender for Jones in the 205-pound division. That champion is becoming as dominant in his class as Anderson Silva is at 185 pounds.

In the co-main event, Demetrious Johnson won the first ever UFC Flyweight Championship with a decision victory over Joseph Benavidez.

The fight had a fast pace and was very competitive, as expected. The difference in the bout was the array of leg kicks that Johnson landed on Benavidez. The kicks slowly wore down Benavidez and allowed Johnson to control the pace. Benavidez still did enough to earn the victory on one of the scorecards, but Johnson was the victor on the other two cards, and in the eyes of most of the fans.

Johnson now is the first 125-pound champion in the UFC. It will be interesting to see how this division grows in the near future with a thin roster of talent in the weight class.

In another big bout, middleweight Michael Bisping defeated Brian Stann by decision to improve his ranking in the 185-pound class.

Bisping was able to out-point Stann with his technical striking and wrestling ability. Bisping actually utilized some nice takedowns in the latter stages of the fight to neutralize Stann.

Looking at Bisping, his resume is pretty strong and it appears he deserves a title shot. He has never been given a crack at the gold but has steadily been near the top of the division for years.

Check out the full results after the jump.

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Top 10 Bantamweight Rankings

nullUFC 132 established who the top bantamweight in the world is.

The rankings haven’t changed too much in the last few months, but here is the latest top 10 in the 135-pound division.

1. Dominick Cruz (18-1) – Cruz (AP Photo) avenged his only loss in the division by taking a decision win over Urijah Faber. Cruz controlled the style and pacing of the fight and landed a lot more strikes. The bout was close, but Faber didn’t show me much to think he deserved to get the title.

2. Urijah Faber (25-5) – Faber gave Cruz the toughest fight he has to date in the division. He landed a few big punches and avoided the takedowns of Cruz. Faber proved he still has something left in the tank, but he needs to make some adjustments to beat Cruz. It will be interesting to see who is next for “The California Kid.”

3. Joseph Benavidez (14-2) – Benavidez has been relatively quiet as of late as he hasn’t fought since UFC 128, but he will take on Eddie Wineland at UFC Live 5. Benavidez has been in a tough spot as his teammate, Faber, has been contending for the title. Benavidez now has a chance to get back into the spotlight, but he needs an impressive showing.

4. Brian Bowles (10-1) – Bowles has earned a rematch for his title as he has two solid wins since coming back from his injury. Bowles lost to Cruz because of a broken hand, not because he was clearly beaten by the champion, so there is some question as to what he could do against Cruz. Given the way he lost the title, I think he deserves the next shot at it.

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UFC 132 Preview: Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber

nullCan Dominick Cruz learn from past mistakes or is history doomed to repeat itself?

That’s the main storyline heading into Saturday’s UFC Bantamweight Championship bout.

Faber beat Cruz by submission in just 1:38 back at WEC 26 on March 24, 2007. Cruz is now a much different fighter, but will it matter against his rival?

Here is a breakdown of both fighters and my pick for this contest.

Dominick Cruz (17-1) – The bantamweight champion has won his last eight bouts since the loss to Faber. He has been on a tear as of late, dominating each of his opponents. Cruz uses a lot of footwork with his striking as he keeps his opponents from being able to settle in. Cruz also has very explosive takedowns, which he likes to use late in rounds to put an exclamation point on his dominance. Cruz has managed to easily defeat strikers and grapplers in his recent string of wins.

Urijah Faber (25-4) – Faber is one of the all-time greats for the lighter weight fighters. He has very quick hands and a strong wrestling base. He also has developed solid submission skills over his storied career. Faber has had 20 of his 25 wins come by stoppage with 13 coming by submission. Typically Faber likes to use his quick hands to work jabs and combinations. If the fight goes to the ground, Faber uses his strength to control the fight and usually finds a way to work in a submission.

Who Will Win – Both men are unorthodox, but I don’t see a scenario where Cruz isn’t able to use his style and make Faber have to take chances. That will open the door for Cruz to get his takedowns and control the fight. Faber may have the quickest hands Cruz has ever faced, but Faber has yet to fight someone that has the style that Cruz currently has. It was a problem for his teammate, Joseph Benavidez, and I see it being a problem for him as well. I will take Cruz to successfully defend his title by unanimous decision.

Top 10 Bantamweight Rankings

nullAfter weeks of rankings, we have finally reached the bantamweights.

The 135-pound division is strong from top to bottom and filled with exciting fighters.

Here is a look at my top 10 bantamweights in MMA.

(If you need to go back and find my pound-for-pound, heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, or featherweight rankings, click on the links)

1. Dominick Cruz (17-1) – Cruz gets my top spot as he is the UFC champion and one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Cruz’ style has been very tough for his opponents to figure out as he is constantly on the move. His striking is crisp and his wrestling goes very unrecognized and is really what allowed him to beat the likes of Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen.

2. Joseph Benavidez (14-2) – Benavidez could arguably be a flyweight but he still excels at 135 pounds. His explosive wrestling and striking have allowed him to beat the best in the division and a pair of decision losses to Cruz are the only black marks on his record. Benavidez is somewhat stuck in the shadows of teammate, Urijah Faber, who will get the next title fight and perhaps leave Benavidez without a place to go in the division.

3. Brian Bowles (9-1) – There is still a lot to be discovered with the former WEC champion. His lone loss was against Cruz, where he suffered a broken hand that stopped the fight. Bowles has big power and some good chokes. He gets Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 132, which should be a good test to see if he is ready to make another run at the title.

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With Jones vs. Evans set, will other MMA teammates face off?

nullAs impressive a win as Jon “Bones” Jones had at UFC 128 over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to win the UFC Light Heavyweight title, the victory became somewhat overshadowed by the drama between Jones and former teammate Rashad Evans.

Evans was originally scheduled to fight Rua for the title but a knee injury six weeks before the fight forced the UFC to find a replacement—Jones. As the fight drew closer the speculation as to whether Jones and Evans would even fight each other if Jones won the title started to pick up. Things were said by both parties and ultimately, the end result is that Evans is now leaving Team Jackson to pursue a title fight with Jones leaving plenty of people with a bad taste in their mouths. Team Jackson is run by renowned trainer, Greg Jackson.

The fight will no doubt be a big draw for the UFC as there will certainly be plenty of mud slinging going on in the weeks leading up to the bout. This will be one of the first, in what I think the UFC hopes will be many, fights featuring guys who either have or currently train together.

Here are a few other intriguing fights that could possibly shape up one day or another between training partners:

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