“I really wanted to try to ‘Chael Sonnen,’ Chael Sonnen, and I think I did a good job at that,” said Jon Jones to Joe Rogan in the post-fight interview of the main event at UFC 159 last night. And that he did as Jones immediately closed the distance in the opening moment of the fight, clinching up with Sonnen and forcing him in to the type of fight that Sonnen was hoping to draw Jones in to in the first place.
Even given the opportunity to play by his own rules, Sonnen had no answer for Jones’ dirty boxing and wrestling. The few strikes he did land seemed entirely ineffective.
Every time Sonnen broke a hand away to pepper Jones with a few shots, he immediately was overpowered and forced to abandon any form of offense, left with the only option of holding on to the champ, seemingly for dear life at times.
This was the type of fight that critics and fans alike felt would be necessary for Sonnen to impose on his opponent to possibly walk away with the coveted strap of gold last night. Of course Sonnen was TKO’d in the first round, and Jones walked away with the belt and a broken toe; an injury that may have lost him the belt had Sonnen managed to survive the round.
Now that Sonnen has fought and lost to both of the champs in the middleweight and light heavyweight division, he will have to decide if he wants to keep fighting, and working as an analyst for the FOX network on the side, or pursue other avenues in his career within the sport of mixed martial arts.
~ Top 5 career paths for Sonnen at this point ~
(1)Give the man more fights!
Chael is far from done as a top competitor among the best of the middle-weights. Don’t forget he is still ranked within the top 10 of the division, and has beaten two of the men considered in the top 5 (Michael Bisping, Yushin Okami). He can always take a stronger role in the MMA analysis field when he stops being a top draw as a competitor.
Everyone has a point in their career where they need to hang up the gloves and find another way to make money at the sport the love, but Chael is not there yet. Give him someone in the middleweights who is looking to break in to the top ten and allow the American Gangster to give back a little as the division’s premier gate keeper.
(2)Add Chael as an official UFC commentator.
Who wouldn’t love to hear Chael word sling back and forth with Ken Flo/Jon Anik or Goldie/Rogan? Regardless of how people feel about Chael’s ability to lie about his fighting prowess, he’s actually very good at breaking down fights and speaking from an honest and logic driven narrative. Most importantly, Chael is delightfully entertaining to most and would add a fun dynamic to either of the UFC’s broadcasting team.
(3)Send him to New York!
If MMA will find a home in New York anytime soon, why not give ‘The American Gangster’ a shot at making it happen? If he can convince die hard MMA fans of his elite fighting abilities as opposed to the very apparent lack thereof, then what’s stopping the UFC from channeling all his silver tongued lies and brazen promises to the doorstep of the New York Legislation?
Seriously think about it. Chael Sonnen earned a title shot at light heavyweight by simply talking. Plus another benefit of note is he could actually win a fight for once if it didn’t involve punching and kicking at the end of the day (pardon the cheap zing).
Chael cares about money, especially when there’s a lot at stake for him over the next few years. Maybe he wants to fight, maybe he doesn’t anymore. Either way, he will be the biggest asset to the sport and more importantly to himself, if he figures out what he wants to do and pursues that.
Obviously in his fight with Jon Jones he was just collecting a paycheck. Remember his first fight against Anderson Silva? No one can doubt Chael’s determination to win a belt in that one. He was an absolute destroyer and refused to go away or stop pushing forward.
Even when he had already won the fight in the waning minutes of the fifth and final round, he still was looking for the finish. Of course he did take steroids and vicariously wouldn’t have owned the belt for that long anyways.
(5)Become a full time FOX employee, and let the world’s biggest shit talker do what he does best.
I think Dana White puts it best when he says a fighter shouldn’t keep fighting when he doesn’t want it anymore and isn’t working towards becoming the best in the world. Chael may still have a couple years of competent fighting left in him, but as a true contender in the sport, his last fight in middle-weight division also marked the end of his fighting prime.
Of course the UFC could still make a ton of money off pitting Chael against other fighters in the promotion, but the world’s premiere MMA organization may benefit more by cutting him loose, allowing him to become a stronger asset to them by working for a different company altogether.
Sonnen’s ability to promote a fight doesn’t end with his own fights. He’s a natural fight promoter and would be a very strong asset to the entire world of MMA as a promoter and analyst of the sport. He could work for all of FOX’s MMA networks, and really help solidify the sport within the sporting world, on the biggest network, over the next few years.
Yet whatever Sonnen decides to do, people will tune in to watch him do it, and that’s a characteristic that will carry him as far as he wants to go in the entertainment industry.