It was another dominant display for Jones, but it didn't come easy.
Early in the first round, Belfort caught the champion in a tight armbar from his back. Jones refused to tap and eventually worked his way out of the hold, but not before he visibly hyperextended his right elbow.
Afterward, he said the area was numb throughout the rest of the fight.
"I've never had my arm popped like that before," Jones said. "I felt it, but I worked too hard to give up. I honestly was waiting for it to break.
"It just felt numb. My brain is trained to throw it, so I threw it, but it didn't feel powerful at all."
Belfort continued to attempt submissions from his back throughout the fight but none came as close as the first. His face was bloodied as early as the first round from the sharp elbows Jones has used on previous opponents.
In the third round, Jones landed a sidekick to Belfort's sternum from which Belfort never recovered. After the finish, Belfort said he had injured the same area prior to the fight.
"He caught me with a kick in the rib," Belfort said. "I already had an injury in training. I was trying to work my jiu-jitsu and catch my breath but he was long and his pace was pretty well. That's why he's the champion."
Belfort's teammates attempted to rally their fighter heading into the fourth, but the Brazilian was visibly fading. The official time of the stoppage was :54 of the fourth round.
Belfort (21-10), who accepted the title fight on short notice and hadn't fought at 205 pounds in five years, had a two-fight win streak snapped.
Demetrious Johnson claims first flyweight belt via split decision
Johnson will forever be the first 125-pound champion in the UFC.
Johnson earned a split decision over Joseph Benavidez in the promotion's first flyweight title fight. Judges scored the bout 49-46, 48-47 and 47-48.
Every round was closely contested, but Johnson's speed advantage showed throughout. His best rounds were the first and fifth, where he got Benavidez reaching and countered effectively with the right hand. According to FightMetric, Johnson landed 110 strikes, while Benavidez tallied 80.
Benavidez came closest to stopping the fight, knocking down Johnson with a right hand midway through the fourth. He pounced immediately, secured the mount and locked in a one-armed guillotine, but Johnson escaped and eventually finished the round in top position.
By the final frame, it appeared Johnson was the fresher of the two. Surprisingly, it was Johnson attempting and completing takedowns on Benavidez in the fourth and fifth rounds -- a scenario many figured would play out the other way.
Each fighter raised his arms at the end of the fight, but Benavidez appeared frustrated as he did it.
Bisping scores unanimous decision over Stann
Stann made things interesting early, clipping Bisping with a right cross that put the Brit in trouble near the end of the first round. It was enough to get him off to a 10-9 start on all three judges' scorecards.
Bisping got back on track in the second round, working behind the jab, which gave Stann problems all night. Takedowns were the real story. Despite stuffing Bisping's first two attempts, Stann started to succumb to them as the fight wore on.
Stamina was also key, as Bisping was visibly fresher in the final frame. Stann loaded up on the big hand, but caught mostly air in the final five minutes.
It's a big win for Bisping (23-4), who will likely campaign for a long-awaited title shot against Anderson Silva or, at least, a shot at the winner of an upcoming fight between Chris Weidman and Tim Boetsch.
Matt Hamill wins, doesn't impress in first fight back
Hamill scored a win for the first time in nearly two years, but erased none of the questions over whether or not he should continue fighting.
Hamill notched a unanimous decision over Roger Hollett in a dreadful 15-minute fight. The light heavyweight opted to retire in 2011 after back-to-back losses in which it appeared he had lost his competitive fire in the cage. In his first fight back, Hamill still looked very much like an athlete going through the motions.
A handful of takedowns by Hamill scattered over the course of three rounds were virtually the only actions judges could score. Hollett was almost completely inactive throughout the fight. The final scores read 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Hamill (11-4) avoided losing three straight for the first time in his career. The 35-year-old's accomplishments as a deaf athlete have been well documented. Hollett (13-4) had his five-fight win streak snapped.
Swanson annihilates Oliveira with one-punch knockout
Cub Swanson has found his groove.
The veteran featherweight ran his win streak to three with a vicious first-round knockout over Charles Oliveira. The finish came just 2:40 into the fight.
Oliveira got off to a good start with an early takedown, but Swanson managed to escape the Brazilian's tricky ground game fairly quickly. The knockout came courtesy of a lethal overhand right, set up by a left hook to the body.
The three-fight win streak is the longest by Swanson (18-5) in his 12-fight career with the UFC and WEC. Oliveira (16-3-1) falls to 1-1 since moving to the featherweight division and 4-3-1 in the UFC.
Afterward, Swanson seemed surprised in the manner of his stoppage win.
"I've never seen a guy fall like that in an actual fight," Swanson said. "Sometimes in practice with big gloves, you'll see delayed reactions to punches -- but not like that. At first, I thought he was just hurt and that he might have broken his orbital bone or something, so I was hesitant to go in and attack right away.
"I think that believing in my abilities and having some ups and downs have helped me become a better fighter. It's easy when you're on a streak but coming back from adversity is what it's about."
Magalhaes returns to UFC with submission win
Vinny Magalhaes made his Octagon return a successful one, submitting fellow light heavyweight Igor Pokrajac in the second round via armbar.
Magalhaes capitalized on a somewhat perplexing move by Pokrajac. Despite nearly falling victim to an armbar in the first round, Pokrajac willingly opted to take Magalhaes, a ground specialist, to the canvas in the following frame.
The finish didn't take long from there. Magalhaes immediately went into a triangle attempt before a slick transition to the armbar finished the fight at the 1:14 mark.
"This is just the first step on the road to the title for me," Magalhaes said. "I think being dropped from the UFC is the best thing that happened to me because I wasn't ready for this back then. I was calm tonight and I didn't have any of the nerves that I had the first time I stepped in the Octagon. So this was my first real UFC fight as far as I'm concerned.
"I've always known that when I get guys to the ground, I can quickly finish almost everyone in my division. My UFC record is 1-2 now so I'd like to build from here and keep the winning streak going."
The 28-year-old Magalhaes (10-5-1) went 0-2 during a brief stint with the UFC in 2008. The Xtreme Couture fighter earned a second shot by going 7-1 outside the promotion. Pokrajac (25-9) sees a three-fight win streak snapped.
Grant outlasts Dunham, wins third straight
Grant did his best work in the first two rounds, smothering Dunham with short punches on the inside. A well-timed knee opened a deep cut on Dunham's forehead in the second round.
The final frame was the closest of the fight, with Dunham still moving forward. Despite his aggression, it was Grant who appeared to land the more significant strikes.
"I feel awesome after that (fight)," Grant said. "It was a taxing fight on both of us and we each did a lot of damage to one another. I think I had an edge in the exchanges and I definitely landed more body shots than Evan did. I don't ever plan to take punishment going into a fight but as soon as I found out who I was fighting, I knew it was going to be a hard fight.
"My father passed away on June 4 and I'd like to dedicate this win to him. We all love you dad."
After the decision was announced, Dunham expressed disapproval.
"I thought it was a ridiculous decision," Dunham said. "He cut me with one good knee, but I think we were even on the exchanges and I took him down in every round. I didn't just hold him in the guard. I was attacking at every chance I had.
"He's got great jiu-jitsu and he avoided a lot, but the takedowns should've won it for me. Their decision was based on one cut."
Grant (19-5) dropped a weight class in 2011 and has rolled since, scoring wins over Shane Roller and Carlo Prater. The Las Vegas-based Dunham (13-3) falls to 2-3 in his past five after a fast 4-0 start in the UFC.
Pierson survives crazy final minute, decisions Benoist
Everything was going well for Sean Pierson until the final minute.
A solid overall performance against Lance Benoist nearly ended in defeat for the Canadian welterweight when he was wobbled and nearly knocked out during a late exchange.
Referee Josh Rosenthal stood right over the action after Pierson went down but correctly let the fight continue despite a barrage of shots from Benoist. Pierson worked back to his feet and took the fight by unanimous scores of 29-28.
A varied offensive attack and timely counter shots were the theme of the fight for Pierson (13-6), who improves to 3-2 in the UFC. Benoist (6-2) loses for the second time in as many fights, after entering the promotion a perfect 5-0.
"Lance is a really tough kid and he gave me a lot of trouble out there," Pierson said. "I thought I edged the first two rounds but he hurt me pretty bad in the third and I just went into survival mode. I was fighting purely on instincts at the end there and he did really well trying to get the finish. Just glad I was able to hold out and get the win."
Brimage scores upset with decision win over Hettes
Marcus Brimage earned the biggest win of his career with a hard-fought decision over Jimy Hettes. All three judges scored the contest 29-28.
Brimage was intent on pushing the pace early, using his speed to get on the inside against a bigger opponent. He dropped Hettes with a big left hand midway through the first, but couldn't quite finish the job.
Hettes turned it around in the next frame. A flying knee wobbled Brimage on his feet, and Hettes took the opportunity to latch on to his back. He threatened several times with a choke but Brimage survived.
Both fighters appeared tired in the final round, but Brimage took it by circling and landing the left hands he had success with in the first. Hettes, somewhat surprisingly, attempted just two takedowns.
"I was hoping I could knock him out in the first, but it went the distance," Brimage said. "I think I wasted a little too much energy trying to finish early on in the fight, so I wasn't very confident going into the third. Glad I got the win and ready to get back in there soon.
Brimage (6-1) improves to 3-0 in the UFC after first appearing in the 14th season of "The Ultimate Fighter." Hettes (10-1) suffered his first loss.
Baczynski flattens Thoresen
The welterweights got off to a bit of a slow start but a beautifully placed left hook by Seth Baczynski was ultimately all it took to hand Simeon Thoresen his first UFC loss.
Each fighter had difficulty finding his range early and an inadvertent eye-poke from Baczynski briefly stopped the action. The slow-paced fight ended in highlight-reel fashion, though, when Baczynski caught Thoresen walking forward with the left hook.
The finish came at the 4:10 mark of the first round.
"I had a really hard time finding my range out there," Baczynski said. "He has long arms and he's much quicker than I anticipated so I just tried to bide my time and place the right shots. I was able to feel him out after the first few minutes and luckily I slipped that shot and was able to connect when he didn't expect it."
Baczynski (18-8) extends his win streak in the Octagon to four. The previous three wins had all come via decision. Thoresen (17-3-1) falls to 1-1 in the UFC.
Gagnon batters, submits Watson
Bantamweight Mitch Gagnon rebounded nicely from a rear-naked choke loss to Bryan Caraway in July by applying the submission hold on Walel Watson in the first round.
Gagnon set up the finish, which came at the 1:09 mark, with a well-placed left hand that snapped Watson's head back. He then grabbed Watson's back and softened him up with several punches before tightening the choke.
"I specifically practiced that left-hook counter and I was able to execute it perfectly," Gagnon said. "I wanted to bait him with kicks to change it up so that I would have an opportunity to throw it and he opened up for it.
"I'm very glad to be healthy and I want to keep this streak rolling. I'd love to fight in Montreal and give the fans another great performance."
With the win, Gagnon moves to 9-2, while Watson falls to 9-5.
Noke impressive in debut at 170
After his man hit the canvas, Noke landed several more punches before referee Dan Miragliotta jumped in to officially stop the bout after only 45 seconds had expired.
"Charlie went down when I hit him and I couldn't see his face, so I can't really comment on the stoppage," Noke said. "I wasn't surprised he (Miragliotta) stopped it, though."
"I'm happy with the win. I worked hard and I felt like I was in the best condition of my life. I train with some of the best guys in the world and I felt completely prepared to go three rounds. It just so happens that it was a short night."
Noke improves to 20-6, while Brenneman falls to 15-5.