UFC 159: Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones moves on to bigger and better
UFC 159 is in the books and whilst it wasn’t without its issues the New Jersey card did provide strong hints as-to what the future holds for some of the sport’s biggest stars. None more so than the poster boy of MMA, Jonny “Bones” Jones.
Saturday night’s Jones versus Sonnen main event had a certain inevitability to it. Whilst relatively competitive (for its duration) the bout served as the biggest indication yet that Jon Jones will be moving on to bigger and more befitting challenges in the not too distant future. Chael Sonnen, as likeable as he is was simply outmatched from the moment the pair clinched. Sonnen battled manfully but found his 6’4” foe literally too much to handle.
Sonnen is a top five middleweight but when faced with the power and strength of a true light-heavyweight predator, he wilted, understandably so. UFC President Dana White is a fan of Sonnen’s and why wouldn’t he be? The brash Oregonian is the peerless “king of spin” in the mixed martial arts community but the difference between the former real estate agent and many others in the fight game is that he backs up the smack talk with a top tier wrestling game and guts to match. White doesn’t suffer fools gladly and he was unequivocal in his assertion post-fight that Sonnen raised his hand when no-one else would. That is, when the unenviable task of taking on the unbeaten Rochester native was up for grabs. The marketability or likeability of Sonnen is immaterial. He brings many eyes to the sport and will continue to do so. His aforementioned skill set is also amongst the very best across all weight classes in the UFC. The fact is that Sonnen is a middleweight and he knew deep down that defeating Jones was a tall ask. Sonnen has displayed his prowess in front of the microphone for quite some time and could make the seamless transition to pundit and all round fight promoter before the year is out. One possible last hurrah may be a tussle with the quintessential Brazilian brawler Wanderlei Silva…
Jones running out of challenges at 205lbs?
The advances in weight cutting in recent years mean that most athletes are cutting a serious amount of mass prior to weigh-in (Jon Jones included). Jones himself has discussed in recent months the difficulty he anticipates in making the 205lb threshold in coming years. It could be argued that it has been over eighteen months since Jon Jones faced a true light heavyweight, with that being one Quinton Jackson back at UFC 135. Through no fault of his own Jones has faced recognised 185lb’ers in his last two outings, Sonnen on Saturday night and Vitor Belfort in Toronto September past. Prior to that he defeated (with aplomb I might add) two recognised light heavyweights who could conceivably campaign 20lbs to the south, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. The former has tipped the scales below 205lbs in the past for light heavyweight tussles whilst the latter teased a move to middleweight late last year. The point is this. Jones is a mercurial talent. He warrants fights that test him to the fullest of his abilities and for me, bar one or two exceptions, this can only happen at heavyweight. The UFC’s flirtation with fun fights almost ended disastrously in New Jersey as Jones’ injured toe came within a whisker of inadvertently giving us a new light-heavyweight champion of the world in Chael P. Sonnen. That would have taken some swallowing for casual observers and hardened fans alike. Having tied the UFC’s divisional record for consecutive title defences the time for Jones to move up to the land of the giants will soon be upon us, a fact acknowledged by his trainer and mentor Greg Jackson in recent days. Until Jones makes the transition to heavyweight, a transition which his body may force upon him, the suggestion that his physical advantages are the reason for his dominance at 205lbs will continue. Jones will want to unambiguously dispel such lingering doubts and locking horns with Velasquez, Dos Santos and Co. is the best way to do so…
“The Count” back to his elusive best with dominant win
Manchester’s Michael Bisping got his own title aspirations back on track on America’s east coast with an almost flawless display against the somewhat disappointing Alan Belcher. Belcher found Bisping, like many before him, a tough nut to crack. Bisping’s crisp lateral movement, fluent jab-cross combinations and incessant activity made the Team Roufusport product look lethargic in comparison. The bout which may well prove to be a crossroads in the careers of both men. It may signal a final surge for UFC gold for Bisping whilst simultaneously consigning Belcher to the mid-tier range of middleweight campaigners.
Roy Nelson why do we doubt you?
Watching Roy Nelson and Cheick Kongo at Friday’s weigh-in would have given new fans of the sport little indication as to what would unfold in one of the most highly anticipated bouts of the night. Nelson again proved that looks can be oh so deceiving with a brutal knockout of the physically imposing Kongo in the first stanza. Kongo would have been cautious of Nelson’s stand-up entering the cage. Recognising Nelson’s big right hand as his “go-to” technique and avoiding it are two different things however. As the Frenchman slumped to the canvas, the thought of “Big Country” sharing the Octagon with Mark Hunt enthusiastically crossed the minds of many, most importantly UFC supremo Dana White…
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