We are just about a month away from UFC 159 which features Jon Jones vs Chael Sonnen in the main event and takes place on Saturday, April 27, 2013 from the Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey. Chael Sonnen earned the fight seemingly by willing to step up on short notice and face Jon Jones back at UFC 151 after Dan Henderson backed out of the fight due to a knee injury. Jones turned down the bout with Sonnen as he felt he didn’t have adequate preparation time and the event was cancelled (for the first time in UFC history).
For once in recent memory, it seems Chael is not being cast as the villain, although his willingness to engage the media had to factor into the UFC’s decision to give him this fight. After not following the TUF series since TUF 10 featuring heavyweights and Evans vs Jackson, the heat between Jones and Sonnen seems relatively mild. In fact, there seeems to be a comradarie and almost a friendship between the two. Both claim there is no love lost and especially in recent media, both have made heated remarks about the other.
To many people, Jon Jones seems to be the ultimate UFC competitor. He possesses great wrestling as evidenced by his 2006 National Junior College Athletic Association championship title and his perfect take down defense in MMA competitions. It is hard to believe any man with 12 UFC fights has never been successfully taken down. In addition, he has incredible, while unorthodox striking. His highlight tape is a great place to witness his striking as many of his recent knockouts have actually been ground and pound finishes. Last, but not least, we cannot talk about Jon Jones without mentioning his prowress on the ground. Not only have 3 of his last 4 victories come by way of submission, they have come via three vastly different submissions. He beat Belfort with an americana, Machida with a standing guillotine and Jackson with a rear naked. After all this, what does Chael Sonnen have that could possibly help him to defeat Jon Jones?
Above all, Chael Sonnen is a relentless competitor and he has unreal cardio. It is important, no matter how overdone, to look back at his UFC 117 fight against Anderson Silva. Silva possesses at 70% takedown defense ratio. While not the best in the UFC, it is high enough to take notice of the fact that Sonnen was able to take him down at will in their first encounter (the second encounter played out much differently). Not only did Sonnen take Silva down, but he was able to maintain the top position and pound on Silva only tiring slightly in the fourth and fifths round, which he paid for when Silva locked up a triangle choke in the fifth. On display in that fight as well was Sonnen’s NCAA All America wrestling credentials.
While Sonnen is one of the top wrestlers in the UFC today, we believe that he won’t be able to take down Jones at will like he could at UFC 117 vs Anderson Silva. In a stand up battle or with Jones on top, we don’t see any way Sonnen will be able to walk away with the victory. In both scenarios that could play out, Jones will be able to finish Sonnen within the 5 allotted rounds. Our mathematical model agrees with our analysis, having Jones as an extremely heavy favourite. At 1.125 to 1, a straight money line bet on Jones doesn’t pay off enough to be worthwhile. Instead, we are placing a 1 unit bet on Jones at 1.25 to 1 to get a finish in this fight. (Jones has finished 6 of his last 7 opponents inside the distance)
Here are the latest odds for UFC 159: