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So close yet so far

Vitor Belfort didn’t pull off a crazy upset tonight, but he came within a few tendons and ligaments when he locked up a tight armbar on Jon Jones halfway through the first round and hyper-extended the champ’s arm. For a few magical seconds it looked like The Phenom had it in the bag, and once again we are reminded that while obvious outcome is obvious, anything can still happen in a fight.

Unfortunately for Vitor, the remaining fifteen and a half minutes went much more like everyone expected them to. Jon Jones showed in the Shogun fight that he knows how to clean a clock, and that’s what he did methodically across the majority of the fight. His favorite ‘because I can’ weapon this time: kicks to the knee, which he threw with deadly accuracy and sickening frequency.

He also proved that there’s no one else out there with a more punishing ground and pound. Where most guys have a hard time punching a guy with any kind of effectiveness from guard, Bones can land elbows all day from any position. And when the alternative to eating elbows to the orbital bone is getting your kneecap buckled backwards, it’s not much of a surprise that Vitor made the Sophie’s Choice of pulling guard several times in this fight.

So we come out of this fight with the knowledge that Jon Jones can fuck a dude up. But we also just learned that if he has a chink in his armor, it’s in his submission defense. Even after almost getting Rousey’d, Jones kept wading back into the same position, and there are now going to be a lot of fighters and coaches looking over his fight footage for tendencies to exploit. It’s not quite the same level of revelation as when Chael wrestlefucked Anderson within 10 seconds of the middleweight strap, but it’s up there. We now have a hypothesis on how to dethrone the light heavyweight champion. The question is if anyone will be able to effectively test it.