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Jones vs. Sonnen: Title Fight Is Chael Sonnen's Final Chance at Legitimacy

TUALATIN, OR - JUNE 26:  (Editor's Note: This images was converted to black and white.) Chael Sonnen takes a break during a workout at the Team Quest gym on June 26, 2012 in Tualatin, Oregon.  Sonnen will fight Anderson Silva July 7, 2012 at UFC 148 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIApril 27, 2013

After months of anticipation, the UFC will finally host a light heavyweight title fight between champion Jon "Bones" Jones and Chael Sonnen. This will be at UFC 159, which starts 7 p.m. Saturday. The main card starts on pay-per-view at 10.

As much revenue as this fight may generate for the UFC, this is Sonnen's final chance at legitimacy.

Sonnen has become one of the greatest mouthpieces in all of professional athletics. From his witty metaphors to his bashing of Brazil and all the way down to his praise for the opposition, Sonnen has become something of a villain.

A villain that has a cult following.

The question is, what has Sonnen done to warrant his status as an MMA superstar?

There's no question he makes for good TV, as Sonnen can get under anyone's skin. That was never more apparent as when he made Anderson Silva come out of his often silent shell.

Until he puts his fists where his mouth is, however, Sonnen will be unable to stake his claim as what all strive to be—a champion.

 

The In-Ring Story

Since joining the UFC in 2009, Chael Sonnen is 5-3 in eight fights. Four of his five wins have come by decision, while all three of his losses have come via TKO or submission.

In that time, Sonnen has won two UFC middleweight title-eliminator fights and gone 0-for-2 in matches with a title on the line.

In his most recent victories, Sonnen has defeated the likes of Michael Bisping by unanimous decision and Brian Stann by submission. In his most recent losses, however, he's lost by submission and TKO to Anderson Silva with the middleweight belt on the line.

Most recently, Silva pummeled Sonnen with knees and punches to pick up a second-round win.

This beckons the question that every outsider might be asking. If Sonnen's most recent fight was a loss, what exactly makes him the right contender for the light heavyweight title?

To put it simply, it all fell into place.

 

Does He Deserve This?

For the first time in company history, the UFC was forced to cancel an event after Dan Henderson went down with a torn MCL in his right knee. To clarify, UFC 151 was not cancelled because of Hendo's injury.

It was because one of Hendo's possible replacements, Chael Sonnen, was turned down by Jon "Bones" Jones.

Sonnen offered to fight Jones on eight days' rest, but Jones claimed that he didn't train to fight Sonnen. In turn, the UFC forfeited the event and Jones was scrutinized on an international stage.

The true question is, what other than offering his services did Sonnen do to earn this fight?

Sonnen hasn't fought a UFC light heavyweight fight since UFC 55 on October 7, 2005. For what it's worth, Sonnen lost via submission during that fight.

Once again, Sonnen's status as a deserving contender is called into question.

The truth of the matter is, if Henderson had never been injured, this wouldn't even be a conversation. Sonnen's charisma always makes for entertainment, but in terms of his in-Octagon production, there's no reason to label him as the top contender.

A win would prove his legitimacy and bring validity to his trash talk. A loss would severely damage Sonnen's legacy.

As Sonnen would likely tell us, no one remembers second place.

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