Why Chael Sonnen at 205 is great for MMA
By James Walker
The most interesting man in Mixed Martial Arts is moving up to the 205-pound division – and it’s a genius move for both Chael Sonnen and the UFC.
Sonnen’s two-year quest for the middleweight title against Anderson Silva provided the most compelling storylines that we’ve seen in years. It cemented Silva’s status as a legendary fighter, as well as Sonnen’s place as a huge box-office draw.
But Sonnen came up short in both attempts and is wasting no time moving forward. Instead of being a former contender and just another guy at middleweight, Sonnen aims to shake things up at light heavyweight. It’s a division Jon Jones has virtually cleaned out in a year and a half.
Jones has been so dominant that light heavyweight contenders have stayed mum. For example, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua didn’t seem too upset that Lyoto Machida recently was named the No. 1 contender after winning more impressively at UFC on Fox 4.
But Sonnen is a different breed. He pumps new life, new blood and new possibilities into the light heavyweight division. Sonnen is a good fighter but an even better entertainer and trash-talker. He’s already calling out Jones as a “punk kid” on Fuel TV’s “UFC Tonight.”
Who does that?
“Sure, I can go up to 205 and I can take Jon Jones’ belt away the same way I can take his candy on Halloween, or any little punk kid,” Sonnen said this week.
That statement clearly got Jones’ attention. He later got into a Twitter spat with Sonnen, despite being just two weeks away from a big title fight against Dan Henderson. It was vintage Sonnen – the great antagonist and most interesting fighter in MMA.
If Sonnen keeps talking and winning, he may be the lone reason to keep Jones at 205 beyond his Sept. 1 title defense against Henderson. Sure, a rematch against Machida is already lined up. But Jones already finished Machida in two rounds last year.
If Jones beats “Hendo,” he would own consecutive wins over Henderson, Rashad Evans, Machida, Quinton Jackson and Rua. What is left for Jones to do at light heavyweight in 2013?
Chael Sonnen may be the answer.