Most view Jon Jones as a prohibitive favorite ahead of UFC 159. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
One of MMA’s top pound-for-pound fighters meets its premier self-promoter, as Jon Jones defends his Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight crown against Chael Sonnen in the UFC 159 main event on Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The two men coached opposite one another on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Sherdog.com touched base with a number of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the UFC 159 headliner:
Johny Hendricks: I’m going with Jones. Chael’s wrestling is good, but I think Jones’ striking will make it hard for him to get to close, and Jones has a really good ground game, as well. Jones stops Chael.
Tom DeBlass: Jones will stop Sonnen with elbows in the third.
Gabe Ruediger: If this fight takes place in a verbal battleground, Chael wins easily; but it doesn’t. What Jones lacks in smack talking he makes up for in skill. Jones wins in three to four rounds.
Ricardo Liborio: Jones will win this fight, but I don’t think it will be an easy one. “Bones” wins by decision.
Keith Berry: You know my mind says one thing and my heart says another, but in reality, I see Jones finishing the fight in the second by TKO or submission.
J.J. Ambrose: I like Chael, from his mouth to his work ethic. Neither one quits. Jones has developed a unique style, with his athleticism making him almost flawless when he fights. I don’t think Sonnen has the size or jiu-jitsu to threaten Jones. I see Jones taking it via TKO.
Chris Clements: Going to go with Jones via third-round TKO. I think his reach and versatile striking will be too much for Chael, and Jones has enough wrestling to stop 80 percent of Sonnen’s takedowns.
Jeff Hougland: Chael P. Sonnen wins by unanimous decision. He is too much gangster for Jones to handle.
Bristol Marunde: Call me crazy, but I have to stay loyal to my Pacific Northwest origins, and I’m rooting for Sonnen all the way.
Simeon Thoresen: Jones wins via second-round TKO.
Jason Dent: I’m picking Jones in this one. Jones is too skilled and athletic for Sonnen.
Joe Duarte: Most likely Jones will win this fight, but I’m going to go with Chael. The Gangster from West Linn is so gangster that he once walked a mile in shoes made out of another man.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: Jones better pray Chael slips on some excess sweat on the mat and rolls his ankle. It would take a freak accident for Chael to lose his 205-pound title to the challenger, Jones. My pick: Chael hits Jones so many times with his right that Jones will beg for the left hand to put him out of his misery.
Zach Makovsky: Chael is great at talking his way into big fights, and I’ll be honest, I think he is hilarious and very entertaining. However, this is a terrible fight for him. “Bones” wins by first-round TKO or submission.
Caros Fodor: Super excited to see this fight, but I got Jones finishing Sonnen before the third round. The buildup for this fight was awesome and I know they are going to make a lot of money on this, but I don’t think Sonnen will be able to control Jones as he did Anderson Silva and will get stopped early in the fight.
Vitor Vianna: If that fight was three rounds, I think that Chael would have a chance, but fighting five rounds against Jones, Chael has no chance at all. It’s hard to use his game for five rounds. Chael has very good takedowns, but he has no submissions and no striking to beat Jones. On the other side, nobody knows how Jones is going to fight with his back on the floor. My prediction: Jones wins by TKO in the fourth round.
John Gunderson: Jones is the best athlete in MMA. I don’t think anyone can beat him, except himself. That being said, I don’t give a s---; I will never pick against Chael. I’m going with Chael.
Javier Vazquez: I think the fighter who makes Jones fight going backwards is the fighter who will have the greatest success against him. I think Chael might just be that guy. Sonnen wins by close decision, 49-48.
Travis Wiuff: I’m taking the upset and picking Chael via five-round decision by using his wrestling and constant pressure. It will be one of the greatest upsets in UFC history.
Mark Bocek: I pick Jones by finish in the third or fourth.
Colton Smith: Chael is entertaining and has taught a lot of us young athletes about marketing ourselves, but in this one, none of that will help. Jones will dominate every aspect in route to a TKO victory.
Alan Belcher: Jones will win. Sonnen is not taken seriously by fans anymore, and no one cares about the fight. They want to see me or Bisping KO’d. It will be him on the canvas in the end.
Eric Prindle: Jones wins.
Travis Lutter: I am going with Sonnen on this one, not to win the fight of course -- Jones is too good right now for him. I do think Chael will be incredibly funny in both the fight buildup and the post-fight, thereby making a crazy amount of money for the UFC and himself. That will make Sonnen the winner.
Kyle Kingsbury: I want Chael to do it, but I think he’d beat Jones zero times out of 100.
Nam Phan: Chael all the way.
Mitch Clarke: I want to buy into the hype that Sonnen can win, but I’ve got to go with the smart choice and that’s Jones, most likely by submission.
Steven Siler: I figure Jones will keep the fight standing and be able to pick Chael apart and win a decision.
Igor Araujo: For me, Jones may be the toughest guy to be beat in UFC. He is great with his wrestling; his striking game is also really good and safe; his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills are enough for MMA; and because no one can take him down, he can choose where the fight will take place. Sonnen is for sure one of the best wrestlers in the UFC. If he plays it like he did against Silva in the first fight, maybe he can do something against Jones, but I don’t think he can take Jones down. I think Jones will smash him and make him give up just like Silva did in the second fight, with an “OK, I made my money. Let me get out here.”
Jason High: Everyone knows I’m not the biggest Jones fan, but he can fight. Chael may have some success early, but after that, it’ll be all Jones. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jones drag it out on purpose like he has before.
Pros Picking Jones: 22
Pros Picking Sonnen: 8
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