Just hours after UFC 152 had ended, Dana White told ESPN that he was still open to the idea of Jon Jones fighting Chael Sonnen. While the UFC president personally thought that other matchups made more sense—Jon Jones versus someone in his weight class who had recently won a fight, to name one possibility—popular demand and the will of his employees might just force his hand. Quote:
“I can tell you right now, I think they both want that fight. I just think there are other fights that make more sense. People do want to see it. If enough people want to see it, I guess I’ll have to make it.”
White’s claim that both Sonnen and Jones want to fight each other seems exactly half true. Even after being booed at the UFC 152 weigh-ins, Jones reiterated his belief that Sonnen did not deserve a shot at the light heavyweight title and that it would have been a mistake to give him the “opportunity of a lifetime.” And Sonnen—well, Chael Sonnen’s position remains the same:
At this point, the extent of injury to Jones’s arm from Vitor Belfort’s very exciting first-round submission attempt remains unknown. Jones appeared at the UFC 152 press conference in a sling and speculated that he may have nerve damage to his bicep, suggesting that if he really is next—sorry, NEXT—Sonnen may have to wait whether he likes it or not.
Even more questionable, though, is the insistence that fans are clamoring for Jones to fight another aging middleweight. It’s possible that really is the fight people want to see, as White and various commentators claim, but there is thin evidence to suggest it.
Respondents to internet polls consistently say that Jones should have taken the bout with Sonnen, but those polls were conducted after his refusal to do so resulted in the cancellation of UFC 151. It seems more likely that was the event fans wanted to see, and everybody loves the idea of Jones-Sonnen the way passengers on the Titanic loved those luxurious lifeboats.
But maybe cross-weight bouts that pit dominant champions against journeymen are the future of the UFC. We’re all wishing Jones a speedy recovery. In the meantime, I think I speak for everyone when I say Sonnen vs. Minowaman for the interim light heavyweight title is the fight fans want to see.
(Dan Brooks runs Combat Blog, the bestest political commentary blog out there. We at Fightlinker have been popping major nerdboners over his site for a while, so it’s with great excitement that we have him here as a special guestblogger for the entire month of September.)