What about Alistair Overeem? Will the Dutch kickboxing dynamo provide Belfort with a tactical advantage over Jones?
There is no denying that Overeem is a tremendous striker. As a devastating force within Dream, Strikeforce, K-1, and the UFC Heavyweight Division (just ask Brock Lesnar), Overeem's striking propensity is a force to be reckoned with.
Obviously, Belfort and Overeem have very different physiques, but even though there is probably a 70-pound weight difference between the two fighters, one aspect that may transition smoothly and be of assistance to Vitor in his matchup with Jones is the "Reem's" clinch game.
Striking in the clinch and inflicting severe damage is a staple of Overeem's fight tactics.
This behemoth of a man has lethal knees and elbows, and has devastated top competitors with blows to the solar plexus and head alike. The six inch scar Belfort caused on Marvin Eastman's forehead is proof positive that the Brazilian can deliver a wallop from the clinch, as well, with his knee strikes. If Overeem is capable of passing on novel clinch game knowledge to Belfort, that pearl of wisdom could serve useful if "The Phenom" is able to get inside on Jones.
In the end, will the Blackzilians provide Belfort the tactical advantage to defeat Jon Jones?
To quote the legendary Mike Tyson, “Everybody’s got a strategy. Until they get hit."
I will never challenge Belfort's decision to team up with the Blackzilians in this epic matchup with Jones. I will say, however, when those cage doors close and the 84.5" reach of "Bones" punches "The Phenom" in the face for the first time, as Tyson stated, any strategy developed at the JACO Training Center will be sucked out of the Air Canada Centre faster than Chael Sonnen's belief that Jones is the true champion.
With Jon Jones anticipating confusion because of the dehydration and hunger that stem from weight-cutting, it made him wonder what kind of conversation he’ll share Friday with UFC president Dana White. That’s when the UFC light heavyweight champion said the pair are set for their first tête-à-tête after the dustup surrounding UFC 151.
I’m curious about that, too. It also makes me wonder -- more question, really -- whether the conversation is appropriate at all, considering the young champion has the serious task of making 205 pounds in front of him.
I asked Malki Kawa, Jones’ manager, who was responsible for making the meeting in the midst of the worst part of a fighter’s prep. He declined to answer. Jones didn’t sound too pleased Thursday during the prefight newser, which was notable in part for White’s absence, so I’m betting it wasn’t his call.
I don’t have the first clue if White didn’t make the media session to avoid drama with Jones. UFC officials claimed traffic was a problem, yet the apps that focus on that sort of stuff suggested differently. Regardless, if White wasn’t there in order to avoid drama Thursday, then he should skip Friday’s session, too.
Doesn’t this seem like something that could wait?
Jones didn’t recede from his positions about UFC 151. In fact, he continued to push back on the notion that the cancellation was his fault. He told the fighters who are upset with him to aim their anger at UFC executives. And he dismissed the concept that he had anything for which to apologize. Still, Jones did talk forgiveness, kindly absolving White of the insults the promoter threw in his direction. Think White will thank Jones for the consideration?
The light heavyweight champion should know that kind of talk won’t help, even if he praised his promoter at times and said he hoped to move forward. But so what? Jones is looking out for himself, which he can’t be blamed for.
His loss is no sweat off Zuffa’s back, Jones said. The promotion keeps churning.
Serra’s upset still would be bigger
Matt Serra's KO of Georges St. Pierre will still rank as MMA's No. 1 upset no matter what goes down Saturday.
People who think about MMA a lot, people like Dutch trainer and retired fighter Martijn de Jong, aren't giving Vitor Belfort a shot in hell of defeating Jones.
So it's understandable that an upset would rank among the sport's most improbable results. If -- if -- something incredible happens, the easy comparison to make would be Matt Serra clocking George St. Pierre in 2007. I don't think it works.
Serra had never knocked anyone out before. He'd never shown the power to do that. Everyone knows how dangerous Belfort is. He's among the best finishers this sport has ever seen. St. Pierre walked into the fight with Serra believing he didn't face a threat. Jones won't.
Serra needed 14 fights and nine years to score his first knockout. Belfort needed 12 seconds when he bounced John Hess' head like a basketball that October 1996 night in Honolulu. If anything, St. Pierre needed to be wary of Serra's Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Five of Serra's first six wins came by some sort of submission. Belfort does that too, of course. But armbars aren't the reason why some fans will always pine for the "old Vitor" -- the one whose seventh fight earned his fifth first-round KO by chain-punching Wanderlei Silva in Brazil 14 years ago.
Belfort is capable of anything; he always has been. But he really shouldn't beat Jones. He's never done well against fighters who establish top control. His guard isn't all that active, so he tends to stay stuck on the bottom. Against Jones that means elbows, which is bad news. But we know, and Jones knows, that Belfort is inherently dangerous, so if the champ goes down, it can't be that big a surprise.
Bisping the button pusher
Cheers to that: Michael Bisping deserves an award for the way he gets inside an opponent's head.
I joined Greg Delong’s radio show "Inside The Cage" Thursday to talk UFC 152. Serendipitously, Michael Bisping ran a little late and thusly called while I was hanging around on the phone.
A couple of hours earlier, Bisping stuck his forehead into Brian Stann’s while the pair posed after the final session with the media until fight night. According to everyone in Toronto, including ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto, Stann was furious. "P---ed," Okamoto tweeted.
When I asked Bisping about what happened, he said he hadn’t seen Stann turn red-faced after hearing the Englishman call him a "beaten man."
So I told Bisping that Stann wasn’t very happy about it all.
"Well, unlucky for him," Bisping replied about the Silver Star-winning Marine Corps captain. "We're going to punch each other in the face, so if he has a problem with me squaring up and getting a little close to him, he's going to have a massive [inaudible] when I stick my fist in his face. Listen, if it takes that to upset the man, perhaps he needs to enlist back into the Army because this ain't for him."
The inaudible phrase sounded like "bolten attack" or possibly "heart attack," but either way, the point was made.
The concept of an angry Stann has some people frothing at the mouth. Not Bisping, though. He’s calm, ready, willing and knows what’s in front of him. Or at least what he perceives to be in front of him.
"I looked at him [in the eyes] and thought that he was a beaten man," Bisping said. "And he was off the stage."