In a highly anticipated matchup between the former Light Heavyweight Champion and the Current Light Heavyweight Champion, Vitor Belfort gave Jon Jones and his team a scare in the first round.
While dispersing his trademark lethal ground-and-pound, Jon Jones left himself open for an arm bar by the Carlson Gracie jiu-jitsu black belt. Vitor Belfort locked in a tight arm bar on Jones and torqued the arm of the champ until the arm was visibly hyperextended in the opposite direction.
Victory seemed everything but certain for Belfort, who was the first person to put the champ in any real danger, albeit while on the bottom and on the receiving end of some seriously vicious elbows.
Folks, this is what jiu-jitsu was originally meant for. Reversing any type of situation so that the opponent is never safe no matter where the fight goes. Watching a seasoned veteran and jiu-jitsu black belt like Vitor pull off this fundamental move on the champ with Royce Gracie sitting cageside was a testament to the martial art and its continued relevance in fighting despite the recent domination in the sport by decorated wrestlers.
Despite being in this terrible position, Jones didn’t tap. He continued to fight despite complaining of serious pain and discomfort in his elbow, while his coach Greg Jackson urged Jones to hit him with his injured body part (anyone remember Jackson telling Georges St. Pierre to hit Thiago Alves with his groin?)
Throughout the later rounds, Vitor managed to draw Jones into a few rock’em sock’em exchanges on the feet yet continued to pull guard despite the fact that he seemed to be on the winning end of those exchanges.
After the fight we would learn that Vitor Belfort had suffered pre-fight injuries and an insufficient length of time to prepare for the championship bout. All of this aside, Vitor still performed better than any other challenger thus far, putting the champ in a compromising position that we have never seen before.
In the end, Jones locked in an Americana after Vitor once again pulled guard after a brief exchange on the feet. What would the outcome have been if Vitor had a full training camp free of injuries?
On a side note, it seems the refs are finally cracking down on Jones’ “hands and fingers in the face” standup tactic, which seemed effective at preventing his opponents from closing the distance. Look for skilled strikers to have more success getting inside of Jones’ range in the future (Machida).
What do you guys think about this? What did you think of the fight overall? Do you think the champ will have any real challenges in the near future? How about Belfort? Should he stay at 205?