Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen: Will the Fight Be Competitive?

Dustin FilloyFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2013

Apr 26, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA;  Jon Jones (left) and Chael Sonnen face off after the weigh-in at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Plenty of fighters exist in the UFC's stable of light heavyweights who could offer champ Jon Jones a stiffer challenge at UFC 159 than two-time middleweight title challenger Chael Sonnen.

Lyoto Machida, Dan Henderson, Alexander Gustafsson, and even newcomer Glover Teixeira, each have stated more of a case for a shot at the light heavyweight belt than Sonnen.

Qualifications aside, though, Sonnen spoke up when no one else would before UFC 151, challenging Jones and proving to UFC president Dana White that he genuinely yearned for the opportunity to pull off the unthinkable.

To the rest of the division's chagrin, White granted Sonnen, who hasn't fought at 205 since losing to Renato Sobral in 2006, a crack at Jones' belt at UFC 159.

Fans and experts have plenty of reasons to believe the fight will end in a lopsided victory for "Bones." After all, has deemed Jones an 8-to-1 favorite (-800) to top Sonnen (+500).

But will the 36-year-old Sonnen (28-12-1) find a way to make the 25-year-old Jones (17-1), who's essentially unbeaten with the exception of a disqualification loss, work for his paycheck?

Jones holds advantages over Sonnen in virtually every category except wrestling, and even that's debatable.

With a 10.5-inch reach advantage, Jones will surely dictate the pace of the fight and whether it unfolds as a kickboxing match, a ground war, or a bit of both.

During the UFC 159 conference call, Jones made it clear how he intends to perform in the wrestling department against Sonnen:

I don't think no one respects my wrestling at all. No one respects it at all. I have a lot of pride going into this fight and maybe I'll take him down more than he'll take me down. You never know. I'm excited to go out there and prove my critics wrong again about me being this inferior wrestler. I don't think people give my junior college accolades respect. I'm going to earn respect in this fight. I have great takedowns and I'm excited to see what he has learned off of his back. Even the ground and pound—Chael doesn't really damage anyone with his ground and pound. Anderson's (Silva) face was fine, all of his opponent's faces were fine. I think Bryan Baker is the only guy he made bleed with his ground and pound. Everyone that I take down I cut them open right away, so I don't think anyone respects my grappling, my ground and pound, or my wrestling. I'm excited to go out there and show people I do.

Sonnen claims to possess a superior motor to that of Jones' previous title challengers. But Jones, a cardio junkie in his own right, surely took the proper measures to counteract Sonnen's pressure-heavy style while training in the dry and unforgiving canyons of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In order to keep up on the scorecards, Sonnen must land takedowns early and often in each round. Once he scores a takedown, Sonnen then needs to stay glued to Jones' hips and maintain top control for large chunks of time.

If Sonnen can't repeat the process of perpetually grounding and roughing up Jones in all five rounds like he did against Silva at UFC 148, then "The American Gangster" will surely prove the oddsmakers right.