UFC 152 was FREAKING SWEET! I haven't seen a card this good since UFC 144. Here are my thoughts on each match.
Swanson vs. Oliviera: Proof that good boxing is essential to MMA. Oliviera didn't defend his head properly and paid for it by being rocked in the temple and sent to sleep. Most MMA fighters have a wrestling or jiu-jitsu background, so more and more often, the guy who comes out on top is the one with the better striking (Velasquez vs. Dos Santos, for example). This match is more proof that you need to be strong in all aspects of your game and that boxing is an underrated skill set in the UFC.
Hamill vs. Hollett: I honestly thought the fight should have been stopped when Hollett turtled up and didn't do anything for over a minute while Hamill was hammering him after taking his back. If you are a fighter, you need to try to escape if you are in a bad position, not just cover your head and pray that your opponent stops pounding your head into mush. Nonetheless, Hamill still got the victory with much better wrestling, so it's a moot point.
Bisping vs. Stann: I thought this was the most exciting fight of the night. Bisping really showed off his grappling skills and took Stann by surprise, who seemed to expect "The Count" to stick to his trademark striking game. Stann hearted it out, but was simply outclassed by a more skilled competitor. While I don't think Bisping will beat Anderson Silva, I do believe he has earned his title shot.
Johnson vs. Benavidez: This was probably the second best fight of the night. Benavidez and "Mighty Mouse" were pretty even, Benavidez having better striking and Johnson having better wrestling. It was really exciting when Benavidez caught Johnson in that guillotine choke and Johnson countered with the attempted leg lock. Ultimately, Johnson's superior wrestling helped him pull out a razor-thin split decision victory and I really hope this fight will get the smaller weight classes the respect that they deserve.
Belfort vs. Jones: "The Phenom" put on a valiant effort and I was proud of how well he did against a much younger and stronger opponent. I went crazy when Belfort got that armbar and nearly submitted Jones in the first round. Even after the fight, Jones said that he felt his arm pop and that, even though he wasn't going to tap, he expected his arm to break. Sadly, Jones was simply too young and too strong, able to hold out until Belfort got tired and let go. Belfort realized that he wasn't going to get anywhere standing and trading with Jones, so he frequently pulled guard and focused on his jiu-jitsu, nearly getting a triangle choke in the second round. Unfortunately, Jones was saved by the bell before Belfort could get the choke in deep. In Round Three, Belfort played possum, dropping to the ground after taking a sidekick to the gut by Jones. You could tell from his smile that the crafty pro wasn't hurt nearly as much as he was acting and that he was trying to get Jones on top of him so that he could pull guard again. The ploy worked, but Jones is a quick learner. He figured out Belfort's game plan, getting up and forcing "The Phenom" to stand with him. In Round Four, Jones pinned Belfort's left arm to the mat with his knee and submitted him with an Americana.
What can I say? "Chicken Bones" won fair and square and it cannot be denied that he is basically unstoppable. The only guy who stands a chance against him is Anderson Silva, who will probably only move up in weight if he is dethroned as the King of the Middleweights (good luck getting THAT to happen). Glover Texiera, while having a fierce rep, has yet to be fully tested to see if he will be a UFC mainstay or if he will fizzle out after a couple of impressive wins like Houston Alexander. The Swedish warrior, Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson is pretty tough, but the only notable opponent he has beaten is Matt Hamill. We'll have to see how he does against Shogun before we can really gauge his chances against Jones. At any rate, Tito Ortiz can pretty much kiss his title defense record goodbye.
Do I respect Jones after this? A little. He did show proper respect to his fallen adversary, saying "to God be the glory" before giving him a hug (Belfort, being a devout Christian himself, agreed). He still has a long way to go before I would become a fan, but he has taken a step in the right direction.