UFC: Why Dan Henderson Should Be Fighting Jon Jones, Not Chael Sonnen

Levi Nile@@levinileContributor IIIDecember 10, 2012


It is hard for me to believe that Chael Sonnen is still in the eye of the camera, selling his shtick and shucking his jive like it’s all brand new and never before been heard.

Yet he’s very much still in the minds of casual fans, mainly because he’s never stepped out of the spotlight. He went from talking about how he was going to destroy Anderson Silva to beating Silva for four rounds before tapping out to spinning his defeat into a rare species of victory to losing to Silva again. Then he's suddenly filming the next season of TUF, and from there will fight for the light heavyweight title.

So, I guess the formula for repeated title shots is talk trash, fight well while losing your first title shot, talk some more trash, win a few comeback fights, talk even more trash and insult an entire nation, lose in your next title shot, then talk some more trash and become a reality television star and then fight for another title in a division that hasn’t seen you victorious in over four years.

And what is worse is that the man who should be fighting Jon Jones—Dan Henderson—is going to be playing second fiddle to Sonnen on TUF as his “assistant” coach.

The tail is officially wagging the dog, ladies and gentleman. Anytime the superior fighter, who has actually been a champion, is playing Robin to Chael Sonnen’s Batman, it becomes crystal clear that when all is said and done and a hard decision needs to be made, Dana White will go with the fighter who is more quotable than notable.

Everyone knows that Sonnen talked his way into his current situation, but now it is slowly starting to sink in: The window of opportunity for Dan Henderson to take his final shot at UFC gold has officially closed, right on his fingers.

And Dana White was more than happy to be the one slamming it shut.

This only makes “sense” from a sensationalistic standpoint, because no one in their right mind believes that Sonnen is any kind of challenge for Jones in any area.

When Jones steps into the cage against Sonnen, the champion will not be defending his belt against the top opposition available—he’ll be fulfilling a thinly veiled media obligation and nothing more.

The belt isn’t being served, and that cheapens it, no matter how good Sonnen may be for TUF.

This could have been avoided, and quite easily.

Henderson could have been scheduled to coach against Jones, and both men could have been filming the show while nursing their injuries. Henderson could have had Sonnen as his assistant—which is far more fitting. TUF still would have gotten all the clever smack talk and hype Sonnen could provide, and it would have also served to set up a Sonnen vs. Jones fight later on down the line, after Jones fought Henderson.

Instead, Sonnen is tapped to fight for the title, and Henderson gets thrown into another fight that could see him further injured. The cycle keeps repeating, and Henderson keeps getting older.

It would be different if Sonnen was selling something he could actually deliver, but he’s not, and when that becomes the case, then everything else is just hollow—manufactured smoke where there is no fire.

Henderson should be fighting Jones for all the reasons why Sonnen shouldn’t: He actually has a far greater chance of winning than Sonnen, he has experience as a champion and Sonnen doesn’t, he has a proven fan-pleasing style that has seen him in highlight reels while Sonnen’s only notable for his sound bites, and for Henderson this actually means something, whereas for Sonnen this is just a really great-paying gig that lets him be the center of attention.

Of course Sonnen said “yes” to fighting Jones on short notice. He had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

He knew after getting beaten by Silva twice that he’d have to get very lucky in order to get another title shot in the very near future, and when Henderson got hurt, he saw the winning lottery ticket lying on the ground at his feet. All he did is pick it up and run with it, showcasing the Sonnen swagger along the way.

It’s clear that White values that swagger over Henderson and his Fight of the Year performances and highlight-reel knockouts any day of the week.

And to think I used to laugh at the WWE.