There were some folks out there who thought Chael Sonnen would go away (or at least tone it down) following his second loss to Anderson Silva. And to be fair, I suppose they were half right. He is going away, after all – to the light heavyweight division, that is. And any hope that he might “tone it down” went flying out the window with his recent war of words with 205-pound champ Jon Jones.
Sonnen first announced he was moving back to 205 on a recent episode of UFC Tonight, the UFC’s “insider” news show on Fuel TV. He also made the surprising announcement (to me, at least) that Forrest Griffin would be the man to welcome him back to the land of the light heavyweights. Oh, and he couldn’t help but take a couple shots at Jon Jones, calling him a “kid” who’s belt he could take “like candy on Halloween.”
Pretty tame stuff coming from the guy who once vowed to break into Anderson Silva’s house in order to catch him in a lewd sex act with the Nogueira brothers. It evidently got under Jon’s skin, as the reigning LHW champ fired back at Sonnen over Twitter. Bones called him a cheater and a coward who wouldn’t have the guts to say anything to his face. Chael, in turn, invited Jones to come confront him at his house – provided he doesn’t drive over, a reference to Jones’ recent DUI troubles.
And just like that, a fued is born.
I know more than a few fans will be bothered by the notion that Sonnen is back to talking smack so soon after Anderson Silva went full-ninja on his a**. Then there are the fans who are happy to see the outrageous Sonnen back in MMA’s headlines. And both these groups of fans have little in common – except they’ll both be tuning in if Chael Sonnen ever got a shot at Jones’ title.
Jon Jones should be thanking his lucky stars Sonnen decided to call him out. He’s set to defend his UFC Light-Heavyweight championship against Dan Henderson in September 1st, in a fight a lot of fans view as a forgone conclusion for Jones. After that, he’ll have just about run through the entire upper echelon of the Light-Heavyweight division. Unless they want to rush Alexander Gustafsson or Phil Davis into a premature title shot, it’s looking like a rematch is next for “Bones”.
Judging by the last UFC on Fox card, not many fans are stoked on the idea of seeing Bones in a rematch. Lyoto Machida was the “most impressive” that night, and the most deserving of a shot. But we’re only one title fight removed from the last time Machida challenged for the belt. Fans want to see fresh blood (figuratively, not literally… I hope) and compelling match-ups for Jones. Chael fits that bill to a tee. He’s a big name fighter, can sell a fight like none other, and is a smaller guy moving up who’s greatest advantage (wrestling) might be Jon’s biggest advantage too. In other words, he a relatively “safe” fight for Jones, that is also likely to make a ton of bank.
I get the feeling all parties involved want this – Sonnen, Jones, and the UFC.
Love him or hate him, few guys move the needle – in terms of PPV buys, Google searches, and overall fan interest – like Chael P. Sonnen. Having Forrest Griffin as Chael’s “welcome back” fight at 205 makes perfect sense, as Forrest is seemingly winding his career down, has less-than-stellar wrestling, yet is still a big enough name to help launch Sonnen into the LHW title picture.
What do you think? Can Chael make one more run at a UFC title, or is Jones simply too good (or big) for the gangster from West Linn, Oregon?