When MMA's two biggest newsmakers (among the fighter population, anyway) collide, there are going to be a lot of column inches. A lot of slides, as well.
It's likely you've already digested a slide or column or three million about the UFC's decision to place Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen on opposite ends of some epic board game that winds through a season of The Ultimate Fighter and ends next April in the Octagon.
I'll spare you additional pontification on the rightness or wrongness of the overall decision, other than to say that the journey might be a lot more entertaining than the destination. Because don't kid yourself: As good as he is as a fighter and personality, Chael Sonnen does not stand any chance in a cage with Jones. None. He stands no chance. Why? Here are five reasons why.
More than a few electrons have lost their lives (or whatever...I'm not a physicist) in the name of extolling that famous Jon Jones reach advantage. However, that ground is well-trod for a reason, and that's not the only physical gift Jones will enjoy. Take a look:
Then there's the small fact that Sonnen is undersized at light heavyweight, too. There's a reason, after all, that he has fought five more times in the UFC at 185 than at 205. His UFC light heavyweight record stands at 1-2; at middleweight, he's 5-3, with two of those losses coming to the best fighter ever.
Sonnen didn't move up because he felt it gave him some kind of strategic edge. He did it because he lost twice to Anderson Silva and smartly realized he needed to find a new place to ply his craft.
He has embarrassed the best. Shogun. Lyoto. Rashad. Vitor.
There is no reason to think he won't have his way with Sonnen on the feet. This one's not really in dispute.
This is the fig leaf that all Sonnen believers are hiding behind. I'm not buying it.
Don't get me wrong; Sonnen is an outstanding wrestler. But so was Rashad Evans. So was Vladimir Matyushenko.
Every time Jones faces a wrestler, everyone says, "no one has ever put him on his back, this guy will do that."
First, that's easier said than done. Much easier. Evans didn't try much, but he didn't exactly get a lot of clean looks, either.
Second, just because he's never been put on his back in a live fight before doesn't mean that accomplishing that feat will cause him to shrivel away like the wicked witch after the bucket of water.
I know wrestlers aren't comfortable in that position, but come on. He's a pretty good fighter; I don't think he's going to tap out if you put him on his back. I think he may have trained for that contingency.
Sonnen succeeded in ruffling Anderson Silva's feathers. It didn't end up getting him a win, but it probably got him farther than he would have got without it. Just my guess.
As for Jones, if the recent TUF 17 press call is any indication, he'll give as good as he gets. He'll get close enough to make it respectable, at least. Contrast that to Silva's silent stewing. I know which one I think better suits a Sonnen opponent.
Chael Sonnen can be submitted. He sits in his opponent's guard without attempting to pass while throwing strikes that score points but don't do major damage and expose his neck and limbs.
Jones can submit people. He has six wins by submission. That's 35 percent of his 17 wins—pretty impressive when your arsenal is as diverse as Jon Jones'. On the other hand, Sonnen has eight losses by submission, or two-thirds of his 12 career defeats.
This one's a simple arithmetic problem. It also splashes more cold water on the "Chael can beat Jones if he puts him on his back" argument.