The man who seamlessly blends WWE-level mic work with formidable grappling technique gets a shot at the gold on Saturday night. Chael Sonnen's personality may rub some the wrong way, but ultimately he's good for the sport.
Just being a solid fighter is nice, but Sonnen's ability to flip the switch when the cameras are on has helped him attain a few opportunities.
While most could argue Jon Jones should be defending his light heavyweight title against fighters like Lyoto Machida, Dan Henderson or Alexander Gustafsson, he will instead take on the man he competed against as a coach during The Ultimate Fighter 17.
Why? Because Sonnen's wolf tickets sell arena tickets and secure pay-per-view buys.
He aspires to make every one of his on-air appearances must-see TV, and he usually succeeds. We'll see if he can take down one of the sport's great champions.
All the talking is over, and it's time to fight. Here's how you can watch UFC 159.
Date: April 27, 2013
Time: 10 p.m ET for Main card; Preliminaries begin at 6:35 p.m ET on Facebook and 8 p.m ET on FX
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, N.j.
Fight Card and Predictions
(Asterisks in predictions means there is a more detailed analysis below)
|Johnny Bedford (19-10-1) vs. Bryan Caraway (17-7)||135||FX||Caraway by decision|
|Kurt Holobaugh (8-1) vs Steven Siler (21-10)||145||Holobaugh by decision|
Leonard Garcia (15-10-1) vs Cody McKenzie (13-3)
|145||McKenzie by submission|
|Sheila Gaff (10-4-1) vs Sara McMann (6-0)||135||FX||McMann by submission|
|Ovince St. Preux (12-5) vs Gian Villante (10-3)||205||FX||St. Preux by KO|
|Rustam Khabilov (15-1) vs Yancy Medeiros (9-0)||155||FX||Khabilov by decision|
|Nick Catone (9-4) vs James Head (9-3)||170||Head by decision|
|Alan Belcher (18-7) vs Michael Bisping (23-5)||185||Main Card||Belcher by KO*|
|Pat Healy (31-15) vs Jim Miller (22-4)||155||Main Card||Miller by decision*|
|Cheick Kongo (18-7-2) vs Roy Nelson (18-7)||265||Main Card||Nelson by TKO*|
|Phil Davis (10-1-1) vs Vinny Magalhaes (10-5) ||205||Main Card||Davis by submission*|
|Jon Jones (17-1-0) vs Chael Sonnen (28-12-1)||205||Main Card||Jones by KO*|
Belcher Will Win Battle of Second-Tier Middleweights
Both Alan Belcher and Michael Bisping have had their opportunities to earn title shots over the last three years. But both of them have slipped up along the way.
As usual,, Bisping has been busy insulting his opponent. These barbs would be far more entertaining if he actually beat some of the guys he trash talked.
Bisping told Jeff Cain of MMA Weekly: "It's in the bag."
I think he's wrong. Belcher is a better striker and Bisping doesn't have a big enough advantage as a wrestler to eliminate that edge. Look for Belcher to stuff Bisping's takedown attempts and stop him in the second round.
Jim Miller Will Delight Hometown Fans With Win
Miller should feel right at home at the Prudential Center. He hails from Sparta, N.J., and the fans should be in his corner. He is such a tough, stocky and strong 155-pounder.
He has tremendous explosion on the inside. Miller is dangerous as a striker with short chopping punches and powerful single and double-leg takedowns.
Healy is extremely experienced, but Miller's power should be the difference.
He'll win by decision.
Big Country Will Stop Kongo
Someone is going to get knocked out in this fight; that's almost a certainty. Both men are large, powerful and not built to go the distance.
Nelson has looked more fit of late, but he'll never be a physical specimen.
Kongo comes to the Octagon with one plan and that is to finish his opponent. I've been unimpressed with his development in takedown defense and submissions, though.
Ultimately those deficiencies will cost him. Nelson will get Kongo to the ground and pound him out for the victory.
Phil Davis Is Back on the Rise
Mr. Wonderful's ascension was halted in January 2012 when he lost to Rashad Evans, but fans shouldn't forget he holds wins over Gustafsson, Brian Stann, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Tim Boetsch.
After Saturday night, you'll be able to add Magalhaes' name to that list. The 28-year-old Brazilian is on a six-fight winning streak, but Davis is so good on the ground, Magalhaes will spend the majority of this fight on his back.
Davis finished his last bout with Wagner Prado by spectacular Anaconda Choke. Look for another impressive submission win in this one.
Jones Will Do His Talking With His Fists, Elbows, Knees and Feet
Does Sonnen deserve a shot at Jones?
It is difficult to include all the body parts Bones uses to attack his opponents. What's even more perilous for his foes is that you never know what appendage will be the weapon of choice on a given night.
In any case, Jones is too diverse, balanced and big for Sonnen.
The challenger is coming up in weight to face Jones and he is armed only with his tremendous wrestling skill. That won't be enough.
Sonnen's wrestling is great, but it isn't superior to Rashad Evans' ability on the ground. Suga's skills weren't enough to derail Jones so it stands to reason Sonnen will fall short as well.
The show was entertaining while it lasted, but Jones is going to punish Sonnen to force the stoppage.
Follow me, because Royce Gracie started me on this MMA path, and now I'm out of control.