Chael Sonnen vs. Yushin Okami

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Before I begin breaking down the UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen fight, which airs live on PPV on April 27th, I feel obligated to explain where I stand on the controversial decision made by the UFC to even book this thing in the first place, and more importantly, discuss the current state of the light-heavyweight division.

Jon Jones is at the top and arguably the greatest fighter to ever step in to the cage. Unfortunately through separating himself from the rest of the competition, fans struggle to see any of the others contenders in an accurate light.

To make my point, many fans believe Alexander Gustafsson has not proven enough inside the cage to be considered a clear number one contender in the light-heavyweight division. Yet the last two title defenses have been against middle-weight fighters who hadn’t previously stepped in to the cage in this division for almost a decade. In the mean time, Gus has been on a six fight tear, dominating the likes of Shogun, Thiago Silva, and Vladimir Matyushenko.

Only ignorant people would say Gus wasn’t ready for a title shot when no one has a problem with Vitor Belfort or Chael Sonnen receiving random title shots.

Even more outrageous is how much attention is given to Glover Texeria. He’s good, and definitely a top prospect, but he has yet to step in to the cage against a fighter ranked within the top twenty of any division within the mixed martial arts world.

Unless I’m supposed to count Kyle Kingsbury or Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou as top contenders, please let Texeria fight Rampage Jackson tonight, and maybe a few more top guys at that, before giving him a shot over Gus.

Now that we are forced to watch Sonnen in a fight that he didn’t deserve and probably would never have come close to earning on his own volition, he’s actually not as poor of a competitor for Jones as many believe.

Read the stats below (fightmetric.com) and see that Sonnen actually stacks up rather evenly with Jones.

~TALE OF THE TAPE~

JONES  /  SONNEN

  • Wins/Losses/Draws               17-1-0 / 27-12-1
  • Average Fight Time                11:18 / 11:26
  • Height                                   6′ 4″ / 6′ 1″
  • Weight                                  205 lb. / 205 lb.
  • Reach                                   84.5″ /  73.5″
  • Age                                       25 / 35

~STRIKING (Significant Strikes)~

  • Strikes Landed per Min.           3.92 / 3.24
  • Striking Accuracy                    52% / 44%
  • Strikes Absorbed per Min.       1.44 / 0.96
  • Defense                                  67% / 67%

~GRAPPLING~

  • Takedowns Average/15 min.     2.54 / 3.94
  • Takedown Accuracy                64% / 60%
  • Takedown Defense                  100% / 71%
  • Submission Average/15 min.    0.88 / 0.26

Let’s run through what you just read. Jones is a decade younger, bigger, taller, has an 11 inch reach advantage, has never been taken down, and exponentially finishes more opponents with strikes and submissions. Not to mention Jones is more accurate with his strikes and lands them at a higher rate of impact.

Jon Jones
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Sonnen is clearly out classed, but at least on paper, isn’t at as an extreme disadvantage as some might think. Even though Jones has a 100% take down defense, Sonnen stands strong at 71%. Where the champ’s striking is at a 52% accuracy, Sonnen’s is at 44%.  Both fighters are dead even on striking defense at 67%.

Now there are many ways to look at statistics. In fact, statistical analysis is really just a subjective art form, if not one of the worst classes in high school or college. On paper, it’s easy to give Sonnen a punchers chance in this one in my opinion. Yet can mere numbers completely quantify the skill set of both competitors?

I believe Sonnen will be a little faster than usual and more resilient since he’s not going to have to cut weight as drastically as in previous fights at a lower weight class. But there is a double edged to this proverbial sword.

Since Sonnen hasn’t fought this heavy in years, he may struggle adjusting to an unfamiliar body type, and with his first fight back in his old division being against one of the greatest fighters to ever step in to the Octagon, he may not be given much of a chance to get comfortable.

Watch a fun fan made promo for UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen in the video below.

Video courtesy of YouTube uploader NickTheFace2