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Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen: What About the Other Top Contenders?

Mark PareCorrespondent IINovember 18, 2016

Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen: What About the Other Top Contenders?

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    The UFC has in it's hands a stacked Light Heavyweight Division, full of up and coming stars, former champions, seasoned veterans and at the top, Jon Jones.

    With so many guys coming towards him, the man who will face him next will be a returnee to the division, Chael Sonnen.

    It will also be a long wait, as Jones and Sonnen will face off in a season of The Ultimate Fighter.

    After all this, the Jones/Sonnen battle will take place in April 2013.

    Until then, the light heavyweight title landscape is bound to change with plenty of fights to go, so it will be a matter of just winning.

    I'll be the first to say that I am a huge Sonnen fan, but there are plenty of top contenders that deserve shots at Jones just as much, if not more.

Dan Henderson

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    Dan Henderson will be the first to tell you that he doesn't like the matching of Jones and Sonnen.

    Who can blame the guy?

    Henderson is the number two light heavyweight in the world and he had a title shot before his knee injury.

    He should be ready to go for that title eliminator bout before April, so why not Hendo?

    Jones is doing TUF so his elbow can heal from an injury suffered in the Vitor Belfort fight, so Hendo could have been in the same boat, used the time to heal properly.

    Henderson does have a history with TUF, as well, coaching opposite Michael Bisping in season nine.

    Hendo is also on a four-fight winning streak, wins over names like Fedor Emelianenko, Renato "Babalu" Sobral and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

    Not a bad list of names, but alas, he will have to add Machida's name to the list if he does want a title shot.

    UFC President Dana White did explain that he had "no idea" about what was going on in terms of Henderson, unsure if he would consider doing TUF again (as featured in the video).

Lyoto Machida

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    He had the chance but he didn't take it.

    That's all you can really say as to why Lyoto Machida won't be facing Jones in the near future (as Dana White will atest to in the video on the Henderson slide).

    You can't really blame the guy for turning down the UFC 151 opportunity, as he was on his way back home to Brazil, but the UFC 152 chance was one where White drew the line.

    He is a formidable replacement for Henderson, and after losing at UFC 140 to Jones, Machida is sure to want another crack at the title and it's holder.

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua

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    Shogun is almost there.

    In his three fights since losing the light heavyweight title to Jones in March 2011, Shogun has won twice and put on a "Fight of the Year" performance in his loss to Dan Henderson in November 2011.

    He is expected to headline another event on Fox, as he takes on Alexander Gustafsson in early December.

    A convincing win could give him a chance at the gold after a slew of light heavweights get their turn, but for now, Shogun just has to stay in the win column, as he is bound to have another fight or two later down the road before he is in line.

    In all this, he at least has some sort of success in the division.


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    Chael Sonnen hasn't fought at 205 since losing to Renato Sobral in October 2005 at UFC 55.  The list of names above do have their arguments, as does the UFC.

    Another argument is that all the guys on this list have won their previous bout, while Sonnen's last fight was a loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 148.

    Sonnen's original opponent, Forrest Griffin, even took a couple jabs at the decision, scrapping his fight in the process, and even mentioning how Sonnen talked his way into getting the fight.

    There has been a lot of talk on the subject, so what do you think?

    Does Sonnen deserve this chance, should White have asked Henderson to be on TUF, or should it be Machida or Shogun taking the American Gangster's place?


    Mark Pare is a Featured Columnist. You can follow him on Twitter, and don't forget to check out his sportswriter page.

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