Jones vs. Sonnen: Keys to Victory for Chael Sonnen
Anything can happen in a fight. For Chael Sonnen's sake, let's hope that saying holds true tonight.
Sonnen's climb toward becoming a UFC champion at UFC 159 is a steep one to say the least. Jon Jones is one of the greatest fighters that MMA has ever seen, and it's his skill set that makes him that way.
His long reach, diverse striking and incredible wrestling skills make him unique. And because of his well-rounded abilities, he's dominated every man who's stepped in front of him inside the Octagon.
For Chael P. to become the first man to solve this puzzle, he must execute his game plan perfectly. His game plan is the following...
Avoid a Standup Battle
A smart strategy applied by any successful fighter is attacking the opponent's weakness.
Seeing as though Jones has virtually no weaknesses, Sonnen must adjust his game plan. Rather than fighting Jones' weaknesses, he must amplify his own strengths.
His strength, of course, is his wrestling. As Sonnen sets up his takedown, he can't fall into a trap of striking with the champion. That doesn't bode well for the challenger.
With Jones' long reach and solid Greco-Roman wrestling, Jones will look to play the distance game. Sonnen must keep the pressure on Jones and try to remain inside of that reach advantage.
Get the Takedown
Next up for the challenger is the takedown.
Don't expect Sonnen to get it on the first try though. Jones' 100 percent takedown defense suggests that it will be quite a chore taking him down tonight.
Through continuous pressure and relentless takedown attempts, Sonnen will increase his chances of eventually getting the champion down.
If he keeps failing to get Jones down, he must remain aggressive and try alternative tactics to get him to the ground. This is Sonnen's recipe for success tonight, and if he wants to leave with that championship belt, he has to get this fight to the ground.
Control the Posture
Getting the takedown is only the beginning for Sonnen.
Once Sonnen has Jones on the ground, he has to control the posture. Jones' excellent wrestling abilities will allow him opportunities to get off his back.
Sonnen can't allow that to happen. Sonnen has to score with ground and pound while he's on top, but he has to make sure he keeps the position.
Though it might not be the most entertaining form of fighting, holding Jones against the mat and nullifying his striking is a must for a Sonnen victory.
Beware of the submissions, Chael. For the love of God, beware of the submissions.
We've seen this before. We've seen it on numerous occasions, actually. Sonnen will take control of the fight, dominate his opponent and then lose by submission. It's haunted him in the biggest fights of his career.
That can't happen tonight. With Sonnen on top of him, Jones will look for submissions from the bottom.
Sonnen can't fall into this trap again. If Sonnen works his game plan to perfection and dominates Jones, he can't allow Jones to recreate what Anderson Silva did to him at UFC 117. Another last minute, title-saving submission would haunt Sonnen for the rest of his life.
Drag Jones into Deep Water
Sonnen's biggest advantage in this fight is his cardio.
Few can keep up with the pace that Sonnen implores in an MMA match, and though Jones has great athleticism, he has struggled with cardio a little bit in the past.
The longer this fight goes, the better it will be for Sonnen. If Sonnen can weather the early storm and drag Jones into the later rounds of the fight, Sonnen's pace may start to weaken the champion.
Expanding this fight and making it a dog fight for five rounds could allow Sonnen to steal the title away from Jones at UFC 159. Sonnen has the toughness, cardio and endurance to do so.