UFC Fans and Dana White Are Overlooking Chael Sonnen for a Reason

Dustin FilloyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2013

TUALATIN, OR - JUNE 26:  (Editor's Note: This images was converted to black and white.) Chael Sonnen rests after a workout at the Team Quest gym on June 26, 2012 in Tualatin, Oregon.  Sonnen will fight Anderson Silva July 7, 2012 at UFC 148 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Dana White can attempt to justify why he's pitting Chael Sonnen against Jon Jones at UFC 159, but the promotion's president can't stop himself from lining up future challengers for Bones, even with his bout against Sonnen nearly four months in the future.

Most recently, at the UFC 155 post-fight presser (via MMA Heat), White elaborated on how Strikeforce heavyweight champion and former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier could lock horns with Jones next.

"DC" just needs to trump journeyman Dion Staring in his last outing with Strikeforce on Jan. 12, and then he's likely to get a crack at either light heavyweight or heavyweight gold in the UFC.

"It's awesome," White said when asked how excited he was to have Cormier moving to the UFC. "(Cormier) is going to bring a lot of excitement to the heavyweight or light heavyweight division. And he could be next in line to fight Jones."

Although the unbeaten Cormier, who claims he won't fight American Kickboxing Academy sparring partner Cain Velasquez, has yet to fight in the light heavyweight division, he certainly seems like a more worthy candidate to fight Jones than Sonnen.

Not only has Sonnen dropped two of his last four fights (albeit with both losses coming to pound-for-pound kingpin Anderson Silva) his last tilt in the light heavyweight division came against Renato Sobral at UFC 55 in October 2005, a fight he lost via triangle choke.

Sonnen has also mustered just six wins in 12 UFC scraps, and he has finished just one of his opponents (Brian Stann) in that span.

Jones, in contrast, has won 11 of 12 fights in the UFC, and has finished nine of those opponents. The only smudge on Jones' record occurred when he got disqualified for illegally elbowing Matt Hamill into submission at The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale in December 2009. 

Known for his uncanny ability to close the distance and repeatedly ground his opponents, Sonnen will also have to overcome a 10½-inch reach disadvantage against Jones, a former JUCO wrestling champion who has yet to allow a takedown in 18 pro fights. 

So if Sonnen intends to enact his typically aggressive, wrestling-heavy style, he'll need to perpetually find ways to avoid damage from Jones' dynamic arsenal of strikes, something no fighter has pulled off.

The disadvantages for Sonnen against Jones seem so blaring to the oddsmakers, in fact, that Bones is an 8-to-1 favorite (-800), according to sportsbook.com.

Regardless of the sizable odds stacked against Sonnen, White defended his decision to make the fight by saying:

"He couldn't fight until April, so it made sense for him to do The Ultimate Fighter," White said of Jones in a media conference call via MMA Weekly. "Obviously Chael wants this fight, has been asking for this fight. The fans wanted this fight. I'll let Jon speak for himself. Jon said, 'Listen, I'm going to be there. I can't fight until April. I'd like to go in there and whoop Chael's ass, and then I'll defend the belt against whoever you want me to defend the belt against.'"

At least White knows if Jones and Cormier each do what's expected of them in their upcoming bouts, he'll have a clear-cut contender to square off with Bones in the near future.

"Cormier is a guy who could come in and do anything. A win over Josh Barnett means something, you know," White said at the UFC 155 post-fight presser.