UFC Star Chael Sonnen's Path to Jon Jones Goes Right Through Forrest Griffin

McKinley NobleCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2012

Chael Sonnen has a path to UFC champion Jon Jones, and it goes right through Forrest Griffin.
Chael Sonnen has a path to UFC champion Jon Jones, and it goes right through Forrest Griffin.Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Former UFC middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen is facing off against Forrest Griffin on Dec. 29, and I couldn't be happier. Not because I have a grudge against Griffin, but because Sonnen is the shot in the arm that the light heavyweight division's title picture needs.

Sonnen made this announcement on Tuesday's edition of UFC Tonight on Fuel TV.

Since champion Jon Jones has effectively cleared out the 205-pound division, the aging Dan Henderson is all that stands between "Bones" and a barren weight class full of defeated former champions and still-too-green contenders.

But Chael Sonnen can save us from all that with a couple of solid wins at light heavyweight.

True, Griffin won in their only previous bout in 2003 with a triangle choke submission in the first round, but he's honestly little more than a stepping stone at this point.

Instead of the never-say-die marvel that upset Shogun Rua at UFC 76, or the careful tactician that grounded Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 86 with leg kicks, Sonnen will have a rematch with a faded opponent who's just barely hanging on to a spot in the division's top 10 rankings.

Despite the fact that Sonnen's been in the MMA circuit longer than Griffin, the accumulated years of wear and tear have done far more damage to the former light heavyweight champion. It's Sonnen's fight to lose, and there aren't many scenarios that will favor the original Ultimate Fighter winner.

Chael Sonnen can beat Forrest Griffin. After that, he should notch one more fight against the likes of Shogun Rua—or the winner of Quinton Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira.

That's all the setup that the UFC needs to pit Sonnen against Jon Jones. It's the path that makes the most sense and the next-biggest fight that Dana White can make for the 205-pound phenom.

[McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist. His work has appeared in EGM, GamePro, 1UP, Macworld, & PC World. Follow him on Twitter for more fight talk.]