Few experts, especially those involved in the oddsmaking process, would go out on a limb and predict Chael Sonnen to dethrone seemingly unflappable light heavyweight champ Jon Jones at UFC 159.
Size and athletic disadvantages, among other predicates, have made Sonnen a 5-to-1 underdog (+500), according to Bovada.com.
But the odds stacked against "The American Gangster" are almost identical to the odds former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar (+550) faced before upsetting B.J. Penn at UFC 112.
So if Edgar could pull off the unthinkable at UFC 112 against B.J. Penn, then who's to say that Sonnen, a two-time middleweight title challenger, can't duplicate that feat against Jones?
Here are three reasons "Bones" should fear what will surely be a desperate and hungry Sonnen at UFC 159.
Jones has gotten the oddsmakers' blessings as the favorite in each of his four title defenses. But being an 8-to-1 favorite (-800) carries lofty expectations and drones of pressure, a fact that Jones is acutely aware of.
Always cerebral in his approach, Jones can't afford to lose sight of the fact that Penn was deemed an 8.5-to-1 favorite against Edgar at UFC 112, and hasn't had a belt wrapped around his waist since.
Not to suggest that Penn underestimated Edgar, but evidently the oddsmakers did—and did so by a tremendous margin.
Granted, the soon-to-be 36-year-old Sonnen (27-12-1) doesn't own a pristine record like the 25-year-old Jones (17-1), but The American Gangster rag dolled the likes of Yushin Okami, Nate Marquardt and Brian Stann, wins that made him one of the most avoided fighters at 185 pounds.
There's no secret that Sonnen will attempt to repeatedly flatten Jones in order to neutralize his funky striking style and 10-inch reach advantage.
Sonnen let it be known the day after the fight was announced during the pre-fight media conference call: "Of course I will take Jon down, repeatedly."
He doesn't have the credentials, but Jones can undoubtedly match Sonnen's wrestling pedigree. What Bones will likely focus more on in training camp is preventing Sonnen from scoring takedowns in the midst of striking exchanges.
Sonnen, who mixes strikes with shots masterfully, has dominated in the wrestling department in his last 13 outings, scoring 44 takedowns and allowing just three. Jones, on the contrary, amazingly hasn't allowed a takedown in 18 fights.
Because of Jones' Greco-Roman prowess, Sonnen will likely need to experience success in striking exchanges before he can become the first man to floor him.
Jones easily stayed off his back against the likes of Vladimir Matyushenko, Ryan Bader and Rashad Evans. But none of these three former amateur wrestling standouts employs a pressure-heavy, straight-forward style like Sonnen, a change Jones must cope with in order to stay off his back.
Regardless of his choice to use testosterone replacement therapy, Sonnen puts in the ungodly amount of man hours that are needed to outwork upper-echelon UFC middleweights during his training camps.
Maybe that's why he didn't disguise his plan to employ a wrestle-heavy, pressure-based attack on Jones during the pre-fight media conference call.
Instead, Sonnen—in typical Sonnen fashion—admitted that Jones is essentially a mismatch, but then insisted that his perceived supremely-tuned motor will prove the difference.
Above everything, I'm in a lot better shape than Jon or anybody else he's fought. And as much as I'll admit, Jon is better, skill for skill, he's fantastic. Jon will admit, I'm in better shape than anybody he's fought.
A cardio junkie in his own regard, Jones, just to be safe, had better frequent the merciless trail in Copper Canyon that head trainer Greg Jackson has dubbed "the trail of tears" if he intends to outhustle The American Gangster.