That’s right boys and girls, you shall wander in the darkness no longer because Danny Boy Downes is back with another edition of the Downes Side! A lot has happened since the last time we were together over a month ago: UFC 151 disappeared, main events have changed and Dr. Phil McGraw celebrated his 62nd birthday.
Even without Dr. Phil’s assistance, the show will go on and UFC 152 comes to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto Saturday night with Benavidez vs. Johnson Jones vs. Machida 2 Jones vs. Belfort. The main event features fan favorite Jon Jones as he battles Vitor Belfort to keep his light heavyweight title. In the co-main event of the evening, Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson compete for the first ever UFC flyweight championship.
Cub Swanson (17-5) vs Charles Oliveira (16-2)
The main card kicks off in the featherweight division as Greg "Sport Killer" Jackson product Cub "KO of the Night" Swanson faces off against Brazilian submission ace Charles "Do Bronx" Oliveira. Finally able to avoid training camp injuries, Swanson has looked like a world beater in his last two TKO wins over George Roop and Ross Pearson. Oliveira also has also looked strong in his last two bouts, defeating Eric Wisely with a calf cutter in January and handing Jonathan Brookins his first-ever submission loss last June.
This boils down to whether or not Do Bronx can get this fight to the ground. Even though Swanson has only tapped out once since 2007, Oliveira’s grappling skills are on a whole different level. Unfortunately for the Sao Paulo native, he’ll be standing longer than people at the DMV line (that’s still topical right?). Thanks to his fan favorite coach, Swanson will be patient and tag Oliveira without committing too much to make himself vulnerable to the takedown. He’ll utilize straight punches and quick flurries to earn himself a decision win.
Matt Hamill (10-4) vs Roger Hollett (13-3)
Next we head to the light heavyweight division as Matt “The Hammer” Hamill takes on Roger “The Hulk” Hollett. After back to back losses to Rampage Jackson and Alexander Gustafsson, Hamill looks to get back in the win column after what has to qualify as the shortest retirement in UFC history. Hollett makes his UFC debut riding a five-fight win streak. An aggressive fighter, only four of his career fights have made it out of the first round.
Whenever a fighter has an extended layoff, you have to question their conditioning as “Cage Corrosion” is much more than the next YouTube sensation. Luckily for Hamill he’s making his return against someone whose wins have mostly come via submission. Hollett has never faced someone with the Hammer’s wrestling skills and won’t be able to get him in a vulnerable position to finish. Hamill will pin the "Hulk" up against the fence, finish the takedown and show everyone why he's the only man who's been able to defeat Jon Jones (too soon?). TKO in the 2nd.
Michael Bisping (23-4) vs Brian Stann (12-4)
We drop down to middleweight as “Likable” Michael Bisping looks to move another rung closer to the number-one contender spot against Brian “All-American” Stann. Despite a loss to Chael Sonnen in January, Bisping rides a lot of momentum into the fight. Speaking of momentum, Brian Stann has won four of his last five fights (finishing all of them) showcasing the power that has earned him nine career knockouts.
This is a clash of two very different strikers. Stann is a heavy-handed boxer who uses his brute strength and KO power to overwhelm opponents. A more technical kickboxer, Bisping throws more combos and doesn’t seek the big single KO punch. In the grappling department, Bisping gave Chael Sonnen (the best wrestler in the UFC) all he could handle. Stann doesn’t come anywhere close to that. After learning his lesson from the Dan Henderson fight, Bisping will avoid the big right hand, counter effectively and probably even work in a few takedowns of his own. Stann is not one to go away easily and will have flashes here and there of turning the tide, but it won’t be enough. The Count takes this one with 30-27s across the board. The performance won’t earn him a title shot, but his post fight interview will give Josh Koscheck a run for his money for the title of most beloved fighter.
Joseph Benavidez (16-2) vs Demetrious Johnson (15-2-1)
That brings us to the co-main event of the evening. After a slight delay caused by an Australian judge’s poor arithmetic, Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will finally decide who becomes UFC flyweight champion. Undefeated against anyone not named Dominick Cruz, Benavidez may be known for his guillotine choke, but he's also shown knockout power, most recently in his semi-final match against Yasuhiro Urushitani. Johnson’s speed and workrate are what helped him earn a spot in the finals. His ability to transition from striking to takedowns has given all his opponents tremendous difficulty.
Both fighters are extremely well-rounded, but you have to give the edge to Benavidez in every department. He has the strength and wrestling to match Johnson grappling and holds a distinct power advantage in the striking department. The rounds will be fast-paced, entertaining and close, but Benavidez will be able to outland Johnson on the feet and negate his takedown attempts. If the flyweight division has shown us anything, it’s been that all of them are hard to put away...except this time. The fight will enter the championship rounds, Mighty Mouse will get more desperate to get the finish and find himself in the aforementioned guillotine choke. Joe B. gets submission in the fourth and sets up Bisping/Benavidez match we’ve been waiting to see.
Jon Jones (16-1) vs Vitor Belfort (21-9)
Now time for the main event! Jon Jones has taken some heat lately for his actions outside the cage, but nobody can deny what he’s done inside it. “Bones” has shown why he’s one of the most dangerous strikers in MMA with dominant wins over names like Rashad Evans, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua. Looking to derail the hype train is the self-proclaimed “young dinosaur” Vitor Belfort. For someone who made his UFC debut in 1997, Belfort finds himself in the position to achieve the most important accomplishment of his entire career.
Even considering Belfort makes the jump to light heavyweight for the first time in years, “The Phenom” still possesses knockout power. That being said, Jones never seems to put himself in vulnerable positions on the feet. Vitor will make it out of the first round, but he’ll push too hard for the big shot, Jones will counter him and that’ll be the end of it. After rolling through Vitor, no one knows what’ll be next for the 25 year old champ, but one thing’s for sure -- people will have plenty to say about it.
Well that wraps up another much anticipated edition of the Downes Side. Be sure to follow me on twitter @dannyboydownes and check out some of my other writing here. Also, be sure to leave your queries, comments and list other things you’ve been longing to tell me during my absence.
The Downes Side: UFC 152 Predictions
UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC 152, taking place Saturday, September 22