So we’re less than a week away from UFC 159 where Chael Sonnen will take on Jon Jones for the light-heavyweight championship. No one really expects Sonnen to give Jones much of a fight. Jones is the heavy favorite odds-wise, with good reason. Jones may be the most talented mixed martial artist on the planet. The only moment of weakness he has encountered during his reign as champion occurred when Vitor Belfort almost locked in an arm bar at UFC 152. Considering Sonnen does not have an extensive submission background, it seems unlikely that he’ll be going for too many submissions on April 27, 2013. So if Chael Sonnen is going to pull up the big upset, what will it look like?
First, he has to neutralize Jon Jones’ incredible reach, which has been a problem for each of his opponents. Jones’ best defense is his own kicking and striking offense, which prevents opponents from even getting close enough to land a punch. The best option for Chael is to pin Jones against the fence, so that his reach is not a factor. The problem here is that Jones’ throws and trips from the clinch are absolutely amazing. But when facing a guy as good as Jones, you have to pick the lesser of two evils.
Once Sonnen is there, he must get Jones to the ground. Somehow, someway, he has to use his world-class clinch wrestling to get Jones to the ground. One thing I will say for Sonnen is that I can’t remember an opponent he didn’t takedown, other than Demian Maia. So when he gets Jones against the cage, he has to work him to the ground. Once he’s there, Sonnen has shown that he can keep almost anyone on the ground. He probably won’t be able to finish Jones, but he has to damage his face and make him sweat. He has to keep constant pressure on Jones and wear on his cardio so that he isn’t effective in the standup game.
Then he has to keep that up. For five rounds. He can’t stop working for a second because the minute he stands face to face with Jones, Jones will start wailing on him with hook kicks and standing elbows. Sonnen has to make sure he is in the best shape of his life so that he can grind on a bigger, faster, and stronger opponent for five straight rounds.
It’s a tall order and there is a reason why Sonnen is such a big underdog. We haven’t seen anyone take down Jones consistently yet and it’s hard to think Sonnen will be the guy to do it. But if he is going to win, that’s what he has to do.
Photo Credit – Mark J. Rebilas – USA Today Sports