Rarely does a UFC champ get the opportunity to lock horns with a massive underdog with a belt on the line.
To most pundits, Jones, deemed an 8-to-1 favorite (-800) by Bovada.com, seems like a gross mismatch for Sonnen, a loser of two of his last four fights.
Although Sonnen used heavy trash talking to get his crack at Jones' belt, the 36-year-old Oregonian grinded his way to a pair of title shots in the middleweight division, and he can't be underestimated by anyone, even Jones.
Here are four keys to victory for "Bones."
With an identical reach to Bones (84.5 inches), UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve represents one of the only fighters in the company who can match Jones' ranginess.
The left-handed Sonnen, on the contrary, stands 6'1" and sports a 74-inch reach, a mark identical to that of Jones' last opponent, Vitor Belfort.
Because Jones has equally rangy legs, Sonnen will have to work extra hard to penetrate Bones' jabs and front kicks.
Stopping Sonnen, a master at blending strikes with shots, from closing the distance will be one of the biggest keys for Jones.
Sonnen, an NCAA Division I All-American wrestler at the University of Oregon, may have piled up better amateur wrestling accolades than Jones, but Sonnen's triumphs in the past won't dictate much tonight.
Jones, a high school state champ in New York, never graced the mats at the NCAA Division I level. Bones did, however, win a JUCO title at Iowa Central Community College before teaming up with Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque, where he's working on mastering functional wrestling for MMA.
A wizard at engaging the clinch and finishing Greco-Roman techniques, Jones has scored 23 takedowns and surrendered none in 12 UFC bouts.
If Sonnen can score a takedown or two, things could get interesting. But taking Jones down and holding him down, like the American Gangster loves to do, pose vastly different challenges.
Sonnen will be eluding knees, punches, elbows and kicks from a wide array of angles for as long as he can survive against the venomous Jones.
With a 10.5-inch reach advantage, Jones will need to utilize his footwork in order to avoid being pushed up against the fence by Sonnen.
If Bones can manage to do that and establish his range, Sonnen will definitely struggle to close the distance. Without getting close to Jones, The American Gangster will see his wrestling game be nullified and he'll get picked apart on the outside.
Because Jones enjoys unleashing flashy and unorthodox strikes—most of which land with amazing accuracy—Sonnen could become the victim of a highlight-reel knockout.
Trainers Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn always ensure that their fighters optimize their potential in the Octagon, especially when a belt is on the line.
In Jones' case, Jackson and Winkeljohn have formulated five straight successful game plans in light heavyweight title bouts, including dominating wins over Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson and Vitor Belfort.
Fans and fighters may have disagreed with their decision to sway Jones to pull out of UFC 152, but by doing so, Jackson and Winkeljohn wisely enabled Bones to properly prepare for The American Gangster with a full training camp.