If you are unfamiliar with the system, this is how it works. An independent, non-bias viewer (in this case, yours truly) selects the three top performers from the event to name as the “three stars”. If you couldn’t figure it out on your own, the first star is the most impressive performer from the event, the second star is the second most impressive, and so on and so forth.
The “three stars” are judged off the effectiveness and overall impact of their performance. Still following? Good, because here are the “three stars” from UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort.
Third Star – Vitor Belfort
“The Phenom” Vitor Belfort may not have upset Jon Jones to become the UFC light heavyweight champion, but he came closer to dethroning the dominant title holder than anyone before him. For that, Belfort should be commended.
The Brazilian nearly took Jones’ arm home with him in the opening minutes of the first round when he locked in a tight armbar from the bottom position that Jones had difficulty defending and ultimately escaped from. Aside from the submission attempt, Belfort landed some solid punches against Jones but was never able to land a knockout blow. In the end, Belfort was unable to take Jones’ belt. For someone who opened as a 13-1 betting underdog, typically fights at middleweight, and had only about three weeks to prepare for arguably the best fighter in the world, Belfort’s performance certainly surpassed expectations. He may not have walked out of the Air Canada Centre in Toronto as the UFC light heavyweight champion, but he did walk out with the respect of everyone who saw the fight.
Second Star – Demetrious Johnson
Vitor Belfort may not have pulled out the upset to win UFC gold at UFC 152, however, that did not stop Demetrious Johnson from surprising everyone as he earned a clear-cut (in this writer’s eyes anyway) decision against Joseph Benavidez to become the first flyweight champion UFC history. The fight was ruled a split decision by the ringside judges after five rounds of battle even though a majority of fans and media watching thought Johnson won four, or at the very least three of the five rounds.
Coming in to the fight, it was well known Johnson had the speed advantage and was going to try and take Benavidez off his game with a lot of movement. What wasn’t known was how many problems the speed of “Mighty Mouse” was going to cause for Benavidez. Johnson did a brilliant job of sticking to his game plan and made his opponent pay for every minor mistake.
Johnson may not have been the one people expected to become flyweight champion at UFC 152, but now that the 26-year-old wears the gold, it’s impossible to argue he doesn’t deserve it.
First Star – Jon Jones
Another fight, another win, and another title defense for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Defeating Vitor Belfort definitely wasn’t as easy as Jones and his camp would have liked it to be, but the 25-year-old proved he is capable of overcoming adversity to win a fight. UFC President Dana White called the win Jones’ most impressive performance in the UFC, and while it wasn’t exactly a flawless effort, Jones did show off a lot of tools in the fight, particularly his brutal ground-and-pound and diverse submission arsenal.
Jones had a lot riding on his fight at UFC 152 and didn’t let any of it faze him. He was facing a much smaller fighter who wasn’t supposed to have a chance, he had a new sponsor in Nike to impress, and most importantly of all, had issues like a recent DWI arrest, the cancellation of UFC 151 and a confrontation with the UFC boss in the forefront of his mind. “Bones” didn’t let any of it hinder him, though. He came out and did what he does best, putting on a show for the fans, defeating Belfort, and winning a cool $65,000 for ‘Submission of the Night’.