Isn't it comforting to have a fallback plan?
UFC 151 did not, and look what happened. No matter how loudly Dana White screams the names of Jon Jones and his trainer/mentor/guru, Greg Jackson, when the UFC president assesses blame for his fight organization having to cancel an event for the first time in the 12 years he's been running the company, there's got to be a little whisper inside his head reminding him that he's the one who is, um, running the company. Somewhere in the depths of White's manic psyche he must recognize that by top-loading 151 with an appealing main event but little else that might prompt a TV viewer to plunk down $54.95 for a pay-per-view, he'd put all of his eggs in one basket. And eggs are fragile, you know?
No such fragility troubles UFC 152, which goes down Saturday night in Toronto (10 p.m. ET, PPV) -- and will in fact go down, we're pretty certain. When Jones (16-1) was hastily added to this card in a light heavyweight title defense against Vitor Belfort (21-9), it meant fans will be treated to not one main event but two. And the one that had topped the card before Jones vs. Belfort came along was not only another championship bout but an historic one. When Joseph Benavidez (16-2) and Demetrious Johnson (15-2-1) tangle in what is now the co-main event, they will be vying for the honor of being the first UFC flyweight champ. That milestone plays second fiddle to nothing.
Now, if the UFC were to promote this event in late-night television infomercials, we'd next hear a smiling huckster announce:
Bisping is a buffoon for saying that, of course, demonstrating that whatever weight advantage he has over the 125-pounders derives more from an abundance of mouth than from anything hefty inside his cranium. Whereas Jones vs. Belfort threatens to be a mismatch -- every "Bones" fight so far has been one, and this time the big 205-pounder is taking on a guy who has fought in a weight class 20 pounds lighter for the past five years -- Benavidez vs. Johnson promises to make the whole rest of the night appear to be happening in super-slo-mo. As for Bisping vs. Stann, it might not be a main course, but it'll be one heck of an appetizer.
It all adds up to a UFC 152 with two main events (three, if you live on Planet Bisping) and two title fights. Not a bad recovery from the fiasco of 151.
No, I mean "And in the true main event ...": Being that it could determine the next contender for Anderson Silva's middleweight belt -- or, if "The Spider" takes a breather after his detour into the light heavyweight division, could determine the next steppingstone for unbeaten Chris Weidman -- I hereby proclaim the Bisping vs. Stann bout to be the true main event.
No, I don't believe that. I just wanted to experience what it feels like to be Michael Bisping. OK, I'm done. Back to reality.
Now let me try to imagine what it will be like to be Brian Stann, punching Bisping and it seeming like every fist that lands causes the room to be filled with a deafening noise that sounds like fight fans cheering. Even on Canadian soil, Stann will get a war hero's welcome, while Bisping likely will be treated like an insurgent.
But all hype and hoopla aside, this does promise to be an explosive fight if Stann can rectify the deficiencies that allowed Sonnen to smother him. Not bad for the third fight on the bill.