Between Dec. 16, 2000 and Nov. 22, 2002, Tito Ortiz successfully defended the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight crown a record five times. Jon Jones now has the chance to equal the 205-pound benchmark set by “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy.”
Jones tipped the scales at 205 pounds for his long-awaited battle with “The Ultimate Fighter 17” coaching rival Chael Sonnen (205) in the UFC 159 main event on Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Middleweight co-headliners Alan Belcher (185) and Michael Bisping (186) also met their mandatory weight requirements without issue at Friday’s official weigh-in.
Having dropped anchor at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, N.M., Jones has blossomed into one of the UFC’s brightest stars. The 25-year-old Rochester, N.Y., native last appeared at UFC 152 in September, when he submitted Vitor Belfort with a fourth-round keylock at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Jones has rattled off eight consecutive victories since suffering the lone defeat of his career -- a 2009 disqualification against Matt Hamill. Wins over Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson and Ryan Bader anchor his stellar resume. Jones has compiled an 11-1 record since arriving in the UFC in August 2008.
Sonnen relocated to 205 pounds -- where he has never won a UFC fight -- after failing in two attempts to unseat middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The 36-year-old Team Quest mainstay last competed at UFC 148 in October, when he succumbed to a second-round knee strike from “The Spider” at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Sonnen has not lost back-to-back fights in more than eight years. A decorated amateur wrestler, he was an NCAA All-American at the University of Oregon. Despite his background, Sonnen has proven vulnerable to grapplers throughout his career, as eight of his 12 career defeats, including UFC losses to Silva, Demian Maia, Jeremy Horn and Renato Sobral, have come by submission.
UFC 159 “Jones vs. Sonnen” -- which airs live on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT -- will also feature a heavyweight scrap pairing former International Fight League champion Roy Nelson (258) with Cheick Kongo (237), a light heavyweight tilt pitting the world-ranked Phil Davis (205) against Vinny Magalhaes (205.5) and a lightweight clash matching AMA Fight Club’s Jim Miller (155) with Pat Healy (155.5).
Three hours prior, the FX network will carry four preliminary matchups: Rustam Khabilov (156) vs. Yancy Medeiros (155.5), Gian Villante (206) vs. Ovince St. Preux (206), Sara McMann (134) vs. Sheila Gaff (133) and Bryan Caraway (136) vs. Johnny Bedford (136). The three remaining undercard bouts will stream to the UFC’s Facebook page at 6:35 p.m. ET/3:35 p.m. PT, as Leonard Garcia (145) locks horns with Cody McKenzie (145), Nick Catone (*173) meets James Head (170.25) and Steven Siler (145.25) toes the line against Kurt Holobaugh (145).
UFC 159 “Jones vs. Sonnen” Weigh-In Results:Jon Jones (205) vs. Chael Sonnen (205)
Michael Bisping (186) vs. Alan Belcher (185)
Roy Nelson (258) vs. Cheick Kongo (237)
Phil Davis (205) vs. Vinny Magalhaes (205.5)
Jim Miller (155) vs. Pat Healy (155.5)
Rustam Khabilov (156) vs. Yancy Medeiros (155.5)
Gian Villante (206) vs. Ovince St. Preux (206)
Sara McMann (134) vs. Sheila Gaff (133)
Bryan Caraway (136) vs. Johnny Bedford (136)
Leonard Garcia (145) vs. Cody McKenzie (145)
Nick Catone (*173) vs. James Head (170.25)
Steven Siler (145.25) vs. Kurt Holobaugh (145)
* Catone was fined 20 percent of his purse for his inability to make weight.