Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen are headed in two very different directions professionally. Jones can rest and ponder his next challenge inside the Octagon. Meanwhile, Sonnen must decide whether he should continue competing in the sport at all.
The outcome of Jones vs. Sonnen at UFC 159 was no surprise.
Jones proved that he deserved to be the favorite. He made a statement by beating Sonnen, a renowned wrestler, at his own game.
He made an even bigger impression after cameras revealed he had severely broken his toe at some point during the one-round fight, per Mike Whitman of Sherdog.
Jones' brief win and post-fight interview showed toughness and grit. Though the two qualities are intangible, they are very real and important in professional sports—especially in MMA.
This was the second time in as many fights Jones has suffered an injury.
His arm was injured as he fought off a submission from Vitor Belfort at UFC 152. This time, he banged up the toe in the process of pummeling Sonnen against the cage.
At any rate, Jones' stock is sky high.
Any light heavyweight aspiring to knock him off his perch had better be prepared to face one of the greatest in MMA history.
He has already destroyed many of the best fighters in the division. Lyoto Machida, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Ryan Bader and Rashad Evans have already learned firsthand why Bones is an elite fighter.
Among those who have yet to have their run at the champ are Alexander Gustafsson, Dan Henderson, Glover Teixeira and Phil Davis. Quite honestly, I don't see any of them faring much better than Sonnen did on Saturday night.
Right now, the gap between Jones and everyone else in the weight class is huge. No other UFC champion—including Anderson Silva—is as head-and-shoulders above his peers.
Barring some fall-off or fluke occurrence, it could be a long time before we see Jones lose.
As for Sonnen, the gig is up.
The trash-talking and self-promotion are entertaining and overall good for the sport. Whether his critics realize it or not, sports are more interesting when there is a story to follow.
Stories need heroes and villains, and Sonnen happily plays the latter role.
The only problem is that villains are only fun when they are formidable. While Sonnen could still defeat most middleweights and some light heavyweights, he has failed every time he's gone for the gold.
When you're 36 years old and as high profile as Sonnen is, anything less than fighting for a championship is pointless.
At this point, MMA fans will have a hard time buying into Sonnen as a serious challenge to any champion.
It is time for him to take his mic skills to a place where they can be appreciated. This may sound like a joke, but I'm totally serious when I say this: Sonnen should consider the WWE.
His ability to cut promos and sell tickets with his personality is perfect for sports entertainment. Fighters from both worlds have crossed over before.
Ken Shamrock, Dave Batista and Brock Lesnar have all spent time in MMA and professional wrestling.
With about 30 more pounds of muscle, Sonnen could instantly become a major draw in the WWE. He understands business as well as any MMA fighter I've ever seen.
Knowing when to transition is part of being a smart businessman. Sonnen has to know it is time to make a change.
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