On the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Chael Sonnen will get the next shot at Jon Jones people have used their online voices saying he doesn’t deserve the fight, but not saying who does. So the question if Chael shouldn’t get the fight, who should?
I’m a huge Dan Henderson fan, but he’s injured. An ACL injury doesn’t have a definite time to heal and placing him back in the spot against Jones would be a good thing, but it can’t be trusted right now. Henderson, to me offered a good match-up for Jones who would have a real shot at getting the championship. However, fans who are now clamoring for that match to be made are the same ones saying Henderson didn’t have more than a puncher’s chance. Henderson deserves the shot, but the injury makes putting a date on the fight a crap-shoot.
Lyoto Machida has already lost to Jones in stunning fashion, and recently turned down the chance to fight him. One has to remember that the UFC is a company. If I walked into work and said “I need more time to do that,” someone else will step up. Machida didn’t do himself any favors with the UFC and quite frankly his victory over Ryan Bader was nowhere near as impressive as Shogun’s victory over Brandon Vera. While Machida would be a fun match to watch, but I don’t see a rematch between him and Jones going any differently.
The ridiculous calls for Alexander Gustafsson or Shogun Rua to fight Jones instead of Chael rely on neither one being injured after their fight in December. Both Shogun and Gustafsson would be great candidates, but here is where ratings factor in. That fight is necessary to ensure good ratings for FOX along with Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz. The Ultimate Fighter is in dire need of a ratings boost and FX loves Chael Sonnen. How couldn’t they? He’s absolutely captivating and creates the drama that is needed to keep on in this case get a reality show’s ratings up.
Do I think that Henderson, Shogun, Machida, Gustafsson, or even Phil Davis deserve a shot at Jon Jones? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that Chael Sonnen can’t give Jones an interesting fight. We’ve already seen Jones finish 2 of the top 4 names on the list with ease. Gustafsson is on a great streak, but doesn’t really have pay per view selling potential if he beats Jones. Davis lost to Evans who lost to Jones, and since then has only beaten Wagner Prado which doesn’t exactly warrant great praise.
Is Chael Sonnen the best decision for MMA? No there’s plenty of other guys, but he is the best decision for the UFC. They’re not a sport they’re a company. Ratings dictate many things. Combat sports are more intertwined with ratings and numbers than who deserves what. Could the UFC have waited for Henderson, Rua, Machida, Gustafsson, or Davis? Of course, but Sonnen offers a sure-fire way to increase ratings and pay per view buys.