The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) wrapped up its fourth pay-per-view (PPV) event of the year on Saturday night (April 27, 2013), as UFC 159: "Jones vs. Sonnen" went down from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones successfully defended his title for the fifth time as he defeated Chael Sonnen by first-round technical knockout in the main event of the evening in "The Garden State."
In a sport like mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows.
Every competitor who steps foot in the cage is looking for that moment of glory. Some capture it, others don't.
There were several shining stars on UFC 159 fight card as well as an equal amount of disappointments. With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in Newark.
The Biggest Winner
Pat Healy returned to the UFC after nearly seven years to earn the biggest victory of his 13-year, 46-fight MMA career with a third-round submission of No. 4 ranked lightweight Jim Miller in the opening fight of the UFC 159 main card.
After a rough first round where he was in trouble on multiple occasions, Healy rallied back to grind out Miller in the second and third rounds until he got in position to finish the fight with a rear-naked choke.
The 29-year-old was rewarded for his efforts in a big way as he was the recipient of both "Fight of the Night" and "Submission of the Night" honors, resulting in an additional $130,000 in bonus money on top of his standard show and win money.
That is a life-changing chunk of cash for a man who has been in the sport for longer than a majority of the fighters currently signed to the UFC roster.
Healy's impressive win over the one of the world's elite 155-pound fighters was one of the stand-out performances of the night and immediately vaults him into title contention and more big fights are in store for him from hereon out.
In a high-pressure situation where there were few outcomes that would make him look good, Jon Jones closed the Chael Sonnen chapter of his career in emphatic fashion with a first-round technical knockout of the Oregon native in the UFC 159 headliner.
The fight was viewed as a gimme for Jones by most, which meant anything other than a one-sided performance would be viewed as a disappointment.
Going into the bout as the dominant champion and a heavy betting favorite, Jones needed to send a message that a fighter from a lower weight class can't just jump up to his division, talk his way into a title shot and then take his belt.
He sent that message decisively, beating Sonnen at his own game with a combination of clinch work, takedowns and ground-and-pound -- and he did it while fighting with horrifically broken big toe.
Since capturing the title in March 2011, Jones has set the goal of becoming the most successful 205-pound champion in UFC history. His win over Sonnen at UFC 159 without question put him there.
Jones tied now tied with Tito Ortiz for the most consecutive title defenses in light heavyweight history at five and has sole possession of the record for most consecutive wins in the division with nine; two statistics that officially put his name alongside the likes of Hall-of-Fame inductees such as Ortiz, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture as the most decorated fighters to ever compete in the weight class.
Saturday was a key fight for Jones' legacy, and he emerged victorious with a nearly flawless performance. Pair that with his achievements record-wise and "Bones" is one of biggest winners to come out of UFC 159.
He may have a love-hate relationship with fans, but Roy Nelson continues to prove time and time again that he can deliver on a consistent basis like few others in the sport.
Nelson earned a personal UFC best third consecutive victory with a violent first-round knockout of longtime UFC veteran Cheick Kongo and has now finished his last three opponents in a combined total of five minutes and 52 seconds.
Nelson will always be a character fans can rally behind due to his carefree attitude and while he hasn't quite earned a title fight like he suggested in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, "Big Country" has certainly proven worthy of a shot against a top-five heavyweight -- and from the sounds of UFC President Dana White's comments following the event, a bout with Daniel Cormier or Mark Hunt could be on the horizon for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 10 winner.
The Biggest Loser
Few expected Chael Sonnen to stand a chance against Jon Jones in the UFC 159 main event, which somewhat softens the blow of his first-round loss to "Bones" in New Jersey.
It's hard to knock Sonnen for his performance as a majority of the MMA community felt he didn't present much of an offensive of defensive threat to Jones. But what should sting more than the loss itself is the fact the defeat made Sonnen just the third fighter to go 0-3 in UFC championship fights, putting him in a category with Pedro Rizzo and his "UFC Tonight" co-host Kenny Florian.
It's not exactly the kind of company a fighter wants to be in and certainly not a record you want to boast, but unfortunately for Sonnen what people are going to remember most about his UFC career is the fact he could never win the big one.
Regardless of his other wins and losses, the two defeats to middleweight champion Anderson Silva as well as the loss to Jones are what define Sonnen at this point and that's a tough pill to swallow.
Where Sonnen goes from here is anyone's guess. The 36-year-old hinted at retirement following the fight, and while he could choose to compete in novelty fights with the likes of Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort, UFC 159 marked the end of Sonnen's hopes of holding a UFC title and he has openly admitted he has no interest in continuing to fight if he doesn't have a realistic chance of winning a championship.
For the second time in just over four months, Alan Belcher had an underwhelming performance against a top-10 opponent, officially erasing any hopes he has of a title shot in the near future leaving the status of "The Talent" up in the air.
Belcher lost a technical decision to Michael Bisping in the UFC 159 co-main event fight and is now on the first two-fight losing streak of his UFC career. To make things worse, Belcher's defeat ultimately came as the result of an unintentional eye poke to his surgically repaired eye -- an injury that kept the Mississippi native out of action for over one year in 2010-2011.
Belcher appeared to have no respect for Bisping leading into the fight, which is seemingly what led downfall. The Duke Rufus trained fighter kept his hands down throughout the contest and let the Brit score points in the stand-up.
After a four-fight win-streak that elevated him into the top-10 of the division, Belcher has squandered two massive opportunities against meaningful names in Bisping and Yushin Okami and is now without question at a low point in his career.
Leonard Garcia lost his fifth consecutive UFC bout with a one-sided loss to Cody McKenzie on the preliminary portion of the UFC 159 card and is very likely on his way out of the UFC after a 2-7-1 record in his past 10 fights.
Garcia's current UFC losing streak can only be matched by former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion Steve Cantwell (who was released from the organization), and there is absolutely no reason for "Bad Boy" to be competing in the world's premier MMA organization any longer.
UFC President Dana White once defended Garcia's place in the UFC, saying he is an "exciting fighter" and would keep him around regardless of his losing streak, but the last few performances from the Jackson's MMA product have been underwhelming at best and the luster from his wars with Roger Huerta and Chan Sung Jung have completely warn off at this point.
Garcia has provided some memorable moments in the UFC and WEC over the years, but the jig is up and it's clear he can no longer compete at an elite level.
Who were your biggest winner and loser from UFC 159? Let us know in the comments in the comment section below.