TORONTO – Jon Jones finally found the way to get cheered by UFC fans. After being bashed for weeks by an angry fan base that blamed him for the cancellation of a Sept. 1 show in Las Vegas, Jones got the crowd on his side the way only he can.
Jones submitted Vitor Belfort in the fourth round of a one-sided fight, using an American arm lock to finally put the veteran away and retain his light heavyweight belt Saturday in the main event of UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre.
"I'm a stronger young man standing before you guys today," Jones said of dealing with all the adversity of the past few weeks after the cancellation of UFC 151.
Jones, whose trademark elbows opened cuts on Belfort's face, showed his toughness in the first. Jones took him down, but Belfort caught him in an arm bar.
It appeared that Jones' arm was hyperextended, but he spiked Belfort and powered his way out of it.
"Honestly, I was waiting for it to break," Jones said. "I was not going to tap out, but I've never felt that before."
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The rest of the fight was basically Jones kicking at Belfort, taking him down and dropping elbows on him.
Belfort was never able to close the distance and get near the champion, whose reach kept Belfort at distance.
Demetrious Johnson is regarded as the fastest fighter in the UFC and that speed led him to the inaugural flyweight championship. Johnson won a split decision over Joseph Benavidez, using his blazing speed and takedowns to win the belt.
Judges had it 49-46 and 48-47 for Johnson, and 48-47 for Benavidez. Yahoo! Sports favored Johnson, 48-47.
Johnson's kicks were a big factor early, and he put a huge welt on Benavidez's right leg. But as Benavidez adjusted, so did Johnson. He felt he clearly won and looked troubled as the scores were read, when he knew it was a split decision.
"I was really shocked," Benavidez said of hearing a split decision. "I felt I had the standup there. The ground, my takedowns. I took him down more. He didn't take me down once."
What Johnson did, though, was far more than enough. In a fast-paced bout, he was the fresher fighter down the stretch and controlled the way the bout was fought.
Benavidez, who had a cut by his left eye, was often left lunging helplessly at Johnson.
"Joseph is a great competitor," Johnson said. "But I train hard and I totally dedicate myself to this sport."
Another fighter who is fully dedicated to the sport is middleweight contender Michael Bisping. When Bisping joined the UFC, his wrestling was clearly the weak part of his game. But as he has in most areas of his game, Bisping has shored that up.
He took Brian Stann down repeatedly to win their middleweight fight in impressive fashion. All three judges had it 29-28 for the outspoken Brit.
"I've never been a great athlete, but nobody works harder than me," Bisping said.
He showed the improved wrestling on Saturday, but admitted it wasn't easy. He survived a big right hand from Stann near the end of the first round that wobbled him.
Bisping, though, has always been able to recover quickly, though he was aided in that situation by the bell sounding so soon after he was hurt.
"Wow, Brian Stann is really a great competitor, and I have so much respect for the guy, in and out cage," Bisping said. "Congratulations to him. He's a tough, tough guy and took some shots.
"My plan was to mix it up. I wanted to land punches, take him down, land punches, take him down."
That's exactly what he did and it put him on the verge of a shot at the middleweight title. He's likely to fight the winner of the UFC 155 match between Chris Weidman and Tim Boetsch for the right to meet Anderson Silva for the title sometime next year.
Matt "The Hammer" Hamill's return from a 13-month retirement was successful, if highly uneventful. Hamill scored a unanimous decision over UFC newcomer Roger Hollett in a bout that left the crowd frequently booing.
Hamill won by scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28.
Neither man seemed willing to engage and they pawed at each other from a distance a lot. Hamill had several takedowns in the last two rounds and used those to control Hollett and win the bout.
It didn't, though, win him a ton of new fans.
Cub Swanson's boxing coach, Joel Diaz, was raving about his boxing a couple of hours before the card began on Saturday. And then on Saturday, Swanson showed what Diaz meant by absolutely destroying Charles Oliveira.
Swanson landed a hook to the body that seemed to freeze Oliveira. Swanson then came over the top with a crunching right that landed on the butt of the chin.
Oliveira delayed for a second before falling. The bout was stopped at 2:42 of the first in a very impressive finish.
"I've never seen a guy fall like that in an actual fight," Swanson said. "Sometimes in practice with big gloves, you'll see delayed reactions to punches, but not like that. At first, I thought he was just hurt and that he might've broken his orbital bone or something, so I was hesitant to go in and attack right away.
"I think that believing in my abilities and having some ups and downs has helped me become a better fighter. It's easy when you're on a streak, but coming back from adversity is what it's about."
From Yahoo! Sports:
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- Martial Arts
- Sports & Recreation
- Vitor Belfort
- Jon Jones