The UFC Light Heavyweight Title was on the line last night (April 27, 2013) as champion Jon Jones took on his second straight middleweight Chael Sonnen in the main event of UFC 159 in Newark, New Jersey.
Both men had the 17th season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) to build up the bout, but despite everything Sonnen said in the lead-up to the final confrontation, the Vegas oddsmakers and the betting public weren't buying his wolf tickets.
Sonnen stepped into the Octagon as a hefty underdog, attempting to go on the offensive early with some pressure on the feet but Jones surprisingly clinched with him, working for a takedown and getting it. Twice, Sonnen would be taken down and both times, he was able to work back to his feet and fire back at the champion in the clinch with short uppercuts and knees.
The third time would be the charm for Jones, who again initiated a clinch and used his Greco Roman skills to drag Sonnen to the canvas, where he began battering the challenger with elbows.
Jones slowly and methodically scored with ground and pound until a couple big shots forced Sonnen to try to scramble out of danger. This only strengthened Jones' resolve as the champion postured up along the fence and began raining down a torrent of punches and elbows.
Sonnen's only response was to curl into the fetal position and absorb the blows and with 33 seconds remaining in the first round, the referee had seen enough, mercifully putting a stop to it.
For Chael Sonnen, his mouth wrote a check that his talent couldn't cash, but he definitely can enjoy this last big payday. The boisterous ex-realtor somehow managed to turn a cancelled UFC 151 event into a complete season of TUF and a title shot. The man is the ultimate opportunist. That being said, he had no answer for anything Jones did last night. He couldn't prevent the takedowns from the champion, his strikes on the feet weren't powerful enough to slow Jones down for a second and he couldn't defend against the ground and pound once "Bones" finally smelled blood.
Sonnen mentioned in his post-fight interview that he could be done fighting if he wasn't going to be able to contend for a title. That won't be happening at light heavyweight or middleweight any time soon, so unless he plans on calling out Cain Velasquez at heavyweight, we may have seen the last of him inside the Octagon.
For Jon Jones, his performance last night was a thing of beauty. All everyone said heading into the fight was that Chael Sonnen was the best wrestler he'd ever faced so what did he do? He beat Sonnen at his own game, taking him down three times and working him over with strikes on the ground. "Bones" systematically destroyed Sonnen with ground and pound, busting him open with elbows and ignoring the pain of a broken toe to finish off the loudmouthed challenger inside the first round, the first time any of his title fights have ended that quickly.
Next up for Jones could be anyone from Alexander Gustafsson to Lyoto Machida or perhaps even Daniel Cormier. It all depends on how long the champion will be out with the toe injury and when he'll be ready to compete again.