Jon 'Bones' Jones retained his title with a fourth-round submission in the main event of UFC 152 on Saturday night. But things were nearly very different - in the first round he was caught in a very deep Vitor Belfort armbar effort and actually got his ligaments popped before escaping.
Belfort came very close to ending Jones' fight and title reign but in the end joined his list of victimes. So the question is, has the fight shown Jones to be vulnerable now or all but invincible?
Here's what the Fighters Only team think:
Editor, Fighters Only and Train Hard, Fight Easy
Once again, Jon Jones answered further questions about his skillset and ability to extend his title reign long into the future on Saturday night. Vitor Belfort came to fight, locked in a serious submission attempt, and seemingly had the finish - and upset - within his grasp. The MMA universe held it's collective breath.
And yet the champion didn't.
Despite being in unfamiliar territory, Jones kept his cool. He never stopped breathing. He proved once more why he now wears the crown of 'The Phenom' - initially forged for Belfort, who simply joins the list of former champions to have been dismantled by Jones. Make no mistake, Jonny 'Bones', the UFC light heavyweight champion, is here to stay. And all the haters out there had better make peace with that fact.
Fighters Only Consultant Editor, MMA Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph
Time to stop criticising Jon Jones for supposedly being 'fake', and realise there is nothing fake about the fighter in him, nor his will to win. Arguably, Vitor Belfort has begun the process which could break Jones down.
Jones went up, not down, in credit after this fight. So did Belfort.
Assistant Editor, Fighters Only and Train Hard, Fight Easy
Whether a submission is the route to beating Jon Jones depends on the referee. A submission taken to its full conclusion – i.e. a break or choke out - ends the fight there and then. But when it comes to hyper-extending ligaments rather than breaking bones, presumably it is the referee’s call.
A bone break or unconsciousness is self evident, but what does one do about full hyperextension? Ronda Rousey was able to torque Miesha Tate's arm to an ungodly angle, and there didn't appear to be a move to stop the fight. Yet we've seen fights stopped in the past where a submission effort caused a cry of pain but no tap - why is that a submission but hyperextension isn’t?
Could a referee have waved off Jones-Belfort? The answer would be intriguing and impact future contests. Regardless, Jones' unwillingness to tap doesn't mean he's unbeatable. What if Belfort had a triangle not an armbar?
Fighters Only Website Editor
If Jones is going to get beaten its going to be by stoppage rather than decision. I don’t see any of the current light-heavyweight crop outclassing him. It was interesting that Vitor was able to get that armbar from the bottom, as its felt to be an almost obsolete technique in the modern MMA game, the argument being that everyone’s submission awareness is so good that they won’t leave an arm in like that.
Well, Jones did, and he nearly got caught. Does it show that he needs a deeper BJJ game or was he simply over-confident and caught slipping? Belfort has an exceptional jiu jitsu game as well, lets not forget that, but overall I think that if and when Jones loses the crown, its going to be by submission.
Fighters Only Assistant Editor
The bigger picture to come out the Jon Jones/Vitor Belfort fight is that not only is Jones the most talented athlete we've ever seen in the UFC, but even though his one weakness is probably his submission defence, he'd rather have something snap, or pass out than tap.
Not only is that a scary prospect for most fighters, but it also shows that he has the heart of a champion, something we've never had the chance to see before from Jones.