UFC light-heavyweight champion, Jon “Bones” Jones, is in the final stages of preparations for his April 27 title defense against Chael Sonnen, and he admits “The American Gangster” has gotten under his skin.
However, Jones (17-1-0, 8 KOs) doesn’t think it’ll negatively affect his performance when the two square up at UFC 159, if anything, the youngest champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history feels it’ll make him fight that much harder.
“When it comes to me, someone being in my head is a great thing,” Jones said during an interview with Dan LeBatard. “When they’re in my head, I go home, and instead of relaxing and playing with the kids and chilling out, I study more footage. When someone’s in my head, I can’t bear to eat unhealthy. When someone’s in my end, I’m meditating, constantly focusing on the fight. When I’m in the shower, I’m going over how the fight is going to play out. He’s in my head, but it’s why I perform at a high level. … Chael is a guy that I absolutely cannot lose to. … I’m extremely motivated to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Jones certainly doesn’t need extra motivation going into his UFC 159 fight against Chael (27-12-1, 7 KOs), considering how many advantages he already has. Jon is the larger man — with a nice 10.5 inch reach advantage to go with it — and he’s arguably better that Sonnen in the two major aspects of MMA: striking and grappling.
However, that doesn’t mean you should count Sonnen out.
It’s no secret, anything can happen in MMA, and Chael’s relentless, attacking style gives him a chance against anyone in the UFC. He doesn’t give his opponents much of a chance to feel him out inside the Octagon, and his top control is as good as it gets.
Jones pulled guard during the final seconds of his UFC 145 fight against Rashad Evans, and he didn’t particularly look good off his back. Evans landed a few hard shots during the short period, and things could have easily gone bad for Jon if there was more time on the clock. I’m not concluding that Jones has a weak guard from the few seconds I’ve seen him on his back, just pointing out the fact that we really don’t know how good his guard game is.
Of course, putting Jones on his back is a completely different story.
Jones is one of the best wrestlers in the UFC, making ragdolls out of the likes of Ryan Bader and Matt Hamill. Some say Sonnen has the best double-leg takedowns in the UFC, but it’s worth noting that he had a hard time putting Anderson Silva on his back during their UFC 148 encounter (he completed only one of his four takedown attempts, per FightMetric).
It’s hard to see Chael doing any better against Jones.