Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

UFC boss stops premature battle between Bisping, Stann

Middleweights amped up at weigh-in for bout tonight

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TORONTO -- UFC president Dana White stepped in to prevent any further fireworks between English middleweight Michael (The Count) Bisping and Brian (All American) Stann at the UFC 152 weigh-in Friday.

The two had literally butted heads in an intense stare-down after a news conference Thursday. Friday's meeting was also conducted at very close quarters but seemed less vitriolic.

Light-heavyweight champion Jon (Bones) Jones, was welcomed by boos as he climbed the stage at the Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens, on the site of the former Maple Leafs Gardens.

Jones (16-1) has drawn criticism for failing to take a UFC 151 fight on short notice with Chael Sonnen, prompting the UFC to cancel the card slated for Sept. 1 in Las Vegas.

His opponent, a beefed-up Vitor Belfort, clutching a Brazilian flag, came out to cheers before weighing in at 204.2 pounds.

"I'm the old lion, he's the young lion," said the 35-year-old Belfort, who has not fought at light-heavyweight for five years.

Jones, who weighed in at 204.6, shook hands with Belfort but did not look at him as they posed.

Belfort (21-9) looked up and smiled at Jones, who at 6-foot-4 holds a four-inch height advantage.

"I honestly believe that Vitor is one of the best in the world, as good as it gets," said the 25-year-old Jones.

The boos did not seem to faze Jones, whose reputation took another dent earlier this year with a drunk-driving arrest.

Joseph Benavidez (124.4 pounds) and Demetrious (Mighty Mouse) Johnson (125) both made weight in advance of the UFC's inaugural flyweight title fight. Neither man smiled as they locked eyes.

After Bisping weighed in at 185.6 pounds Friday, he headed to the side of the stage where Stann was waiting for the traditional pose.

Stann (185.4) stepped forward to meet him, prompting White to step forward and separate the two. The fighters did go head to head briefly, but the encounter ended with Bisping playfully jabbing Stann in the stomach.

The two shook hands and smiled while jawing at each other.

Bisping started the ball rolling after Thursday's news conference when he jammed his face into Stann's when they posed for photos.

Stann eventually stuck his hand out. The two shook hands and a clearly irritated Stann retired to the side of the stage.

Bantamweight Mitch Gagnon of Sudbury, Ont., weighed in at 135 pounds for his bout against Walel Watson (135.2), then looked up at his 5-foot-11 opponent. Gagnon stands 5-6.

Lightweight T.J. Grant of Cole Harbour, N.S., was 154.6 pounds for his fight with Evan Dunham (155). Welterweight Sean (The Punisher) Pierson of Pickering, Ont., weighed in at 169.4 pounds for his matchup with Lance Benoist (170.4).

Halifax light-heavyweight Roger (The Hulk) Hollett was 203.6 pounds for his bout with Matt (The Hammer) Hamill (205.6).

Charles Oliveira, at 146.4 pounds, was slightly over the 146-pound featherweight limit.

The show is the UFC's 10th in Canada and third in Toronto.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 22, 2012 C6

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