UFC Picks: Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen in UFC 159

Brian Mendez

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 7:34 PM GMT

After coaching opposite one another on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter” series, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will prepare for his 5th consecutive title defense against West Linn, Oregon’s finest, Chael Patrick Sonnen.

UFC 159: Jon “ Bones” Jones vs. Chael Sonnen

At the conclusion of this season’s “The Ultimate Fighter” series featuring Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen , Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will make his 5th title defense against Chael Sonnen on April 27 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Taking into account that this is the first time in Chael Sonnen career where he won’t have a significant wrestling edge over his opponent, UFC odds makers have installed him as high as a +700 underdog here against the champion—compared to a year earlier when he closed as +230 dog against UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva.

Jon Jones, 4-0 since capturing the belt from Mauricio Rua in 2011, recently survived perhaps his biggest scare to date after barely escaping a deeply latched armbar by Vitor Belfort in the first round at UFC 152.

However, once he was able to free his arm from Belfort’s Grip, the fight quickly turned into another typically dominant performance from the champion, landing multiple elbows before submitting Vitor with a KeyLock early in round 4.

The fight against Belfort marked the third straight time Jones closed above -500 at most online sportsbooks, and at this point, the only two future opponent with a small chance at bucking that trend would have to be Alexander Gustafsson or maybe Glover Teixeira- two fighters who have built up quite the hype after recent dominant win streaks in the division.

And not far behind those two, I would put Gegard Mousasi down as the only other challenger who might be able to produce a reasonably competitive line against the champion in the future.

UFC Light Heavyweight Title Prediction

Despite getting shamefully knocked out in the second round in the recent rematch against Anderson Silva, Sonnen was actually dominating most of the first round, and despite being 0-2 against Silva, he convincingly took 5 of the 7 total rounds they fought.

While the odds may not reflect the sentiment, Sonnen is still a very unique challenge for the champion. Not only is he arguably the greatest wrestler/ takedown artist that Jones has faced up to this point of his career, but he also pushes the type of relentless pace that Jones hasn’t encountered since dethroning Shogun Rua to capture the title.

Instead of having to defend the halfhearted takedown attempts of Rashad Evans- the last legitimate takedown threat Jones faced- Sonnen will be looking to relentlessly push forward whether his initial takedown attempt fails or not,chaining multiple takedown attempts together throughout the fight.

However, that’s about as much credit as I can give Sonnen as a challenger in this match-up. Having to take on the greatest defensive wrestler in the sport, overcome nearly 10 inches in reach and being the older fighter by nearly a decade is simply asking too much out of the 35 year old Sonnen at this stage of his career.

In my mind, Jon Jones is already the greatest martial artist to ever compete in this sport. In fact, I’d gladly bet him at anything under -230 if either super-fight against Anderson Silva or Cain Velasquez was to materialize in the future .

Against Sonnen, I expect nothing less than another one of Jon’s methodical demolitions over the former number one middleweight contender. When it comes to placing our UFC picks, we think Sonnen’s either getting split open with an elbow in the first two rounds, or he’ll find himself tapping to another submission by the 4th round

UFC Prediction: Jon Jones ITD -380 at 5dimes.com