• UFC 152

Jones survives huge Belfort scare

ESPN staff
September 23, 2012 « Southampton add Artur Boruc | Chartbeat test »
Jon Jones won via submission in round four © Getty Images
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Jon Jones came as close as he ever has to losing his light-heavyweight title at UFC 152, but ultimately Vitor Belfort's sniping armbar attempt will earn only plaudits - not gold - as Jones chalked up his fifth straight victory over a UFC champion.

Less than two minutes into Saturday's main event Belfort had every spectator at the Air Canada Centre off their seats as he locked on a clamping armbar that had the champ wincing in pain. However, Jones eventually lifted his way out of it, and quickly re-asserted his trademark dominance for a submission victory via americana in round four.

By defeating the Phenom, Jones moves within one win of equalling Tito Ortiz's record for successful light-heavyweight defences. It is a record he wants badly, bad enough to turn down a fight with Chael Sonnen on eight days' notice at UFC 151.

He also now holds the record for submission wins in the light-heavyweight division, his new tally standing at five victims.

One special technique seems to earmark each Jones fight, and on this occasion it was the side kick, stabbing to the lead leg of Belfort and driving through his body. It dropped the challenger in the third round, and did much to stop Belfort's ability to explode as the fight progressed.

Jones came out crawling, earning an illegal head kick from Belfort that didn't land, but served as a message to the champ. Jones instantly moved in for the single-leg takedown and landed it, only to wind up in Belfort's vicious armbar.

"I've never had my arm popped like that before," Jones said. "I was waiting for it to break, I was not going to tap out. I've never felt that before.

"I felt numb after, I threw it after and it had no power at all. I need to see what's wrong with it. But I've got a lot of work to do against southpaws for sure."

Having come so close to the great shock, Belfort ended round one a bloody mess as Jones cut him open with his razor-sharp left elbow, prompting the doctor to check his right eye at the end of the round.

Jon Jones beats Vitor Belfort

Jones stepped up the pressure in the second, landing relentless side kicks to the leg before teeing off to the head with kicks, straight rights and spinning elbows. Belfort threatened with a high kick of his own, but he got picked off towards the klaxon as Jones began to drop his hands and relax.

A side kick to the body dropped Belfort in round three as his challenge appeared to dissipate completely, but he found a second wind in the fourth - unloading everything he had to offer before being taken to the mat. There Jones looked for the crucifix, before switching to the americana for victory.

Having been criticised heavily for his part in the cancellation of UFC 151, Jones' win returns the focus to his fighting, and few can boast his world class list of victims as he continues to move towards greatness in the UFC.

UFC 152 results:
Jon Jones def Vitor Belfort via submission (americana) at 0:54 of round 4
Demetrious Johnson def Joseph Benavidez via split decision 48-47 47-48 49-46
Michael Bisping def Brian Stann via unanimous decision 29-28 29-28 29-28
Matt Hamill def Roger Hollett via unanimous decision 29-28 30-27 30-27
Cub Swanson def Charles Oliveira via KO at 2.40 of round 1
Vinny Magalhaes def Igor Pokrajac via submission (armbar) at 1.14 of round 2
TJ Grant def Evan Dunham via unanimous decision 29-28 30-27 29-28
Sean Pierson def Lance Benoist via unanimous decision 29-28 29-28 29-28
Marcus Brimage def Jimy Hettes via unanimous decision 29-28 29-28 29-28
Seth Baczynski def Simeon Thoresen via KO at 4.10 of round 1
Mitch Gagnon def Walel Watson via submission (rear naked choke) at 1.09 of round 1
Kyle Noke def Charlie Brenneman via TKO at 0.45 of round 1

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