It seems as if the discussions regarding the validity of Chael Sonnen receiving a light heavyweight title shot against Jon Jones have died down. Now that fans and media types who were in an uproar about the bout have reached the stage of acceptance, it’s time to start looking ahead at the fight itself and what Sonnen has to do to defeat Jon Jones when the two face off sometime in the spring of 2013.
A quick glance at the odds show that Jones is currently a -975 favorite to defeat Sonnen. As far as Jones’ title defenses go, he has never been a bigger favorite. Before this, he came in as -800 favorite to defeat Vitor Belfort at UFC 152. To say the odds are stacked against Sonnen would be a little like saying people along the eastern seaboard are currently mildly concerned about Hurricane Sandy.
So what does Sonnen need to do to overcome the odds and earn an upset victory over Jones? While there are those that will say Sonnen has absolutely no chance to unseat the champ, former UFC champion Randy Couture is not one of those naysayers. In fact, Couture feels like Sonnen could win the fight if he uses a wrestling-based game plan.
Couture, appearing on a recent episode of MMA Uncensored Live, had the following to say about how Sonnen can defeat Jones, “Technically I see a similar style fight as Anderson Silva. If he wades through him and makes Jon Jones wrestle him the entire fight, I think he can win that.” Couture than added, “He can do it, but he needs that gameplan. He needs to make it a wrestling match, start to finish.”
I have nothing but respect for Couture. He’s accomplished a great deal during his UFC Hall of Fame career and continues to add to his legacy by staring in films that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, BUT to think that Sonnen is going to be able to overpower Jones in the wrestling department may be a stretch.
Will Sonnen be the first to take Jones down?
Sonnen has fine wrestling credentials: He was an All-American at the University of Oregon and an alternate on the 2000 US Greco-Roman Olympic squad, and if this was strictly a wrestling match I would say, ok he has a chance. It isn’t and he most likely doesn’t.
Sonnen has had success with his wrestling in the UFC, most notably, as Couture points out, at UFC 117 when he used his wrestling to take UFC middleweight champion Silva to the mat and neutralize him, but when it comes to wrestling, Silva is not Jones.
Jones has never been taken down in the UFC. His opponents have attempted 16 takedowns and all have failed, most notably Rashad Evans, who failed on all four of his attempts at UFC 145. Jones’ length and defensive wrestling skills make it very tough for an opponent to gain a takedown; it’s doubtful that Sonnen will be able to be the first to do so, and if he shoots and fails then what? He may very well find himself in a vulnerable position and a target for any of Jones’ unorthodox striking techniques.
I don’t disagree with Couture; Wrestling is the best chance for Sonnen to win the fight. But I will say, knowing what we do about each of the combatants, how much chance does that really give Sonnen?