UFC 159 ‘Jones vs Sonnen’ main-card preview

April 26, 2013

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UFC 159 ‘Jones vs Sonnen’ main-card preview



John Boldrick – It looks as though the UFC has learned its lesson. No longer does the promotion book events where Jon Jones is the only selling point. After the disaster that was UFC 151, the company has started to stack Bones cards, with this weekend’s effort being a perfect example. The main card features seven UFC top ten ranked fighters (including Jones) making it a very impressive card. Live from The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, is UFC 159 on April 27, 2013.

Leading off the main card will be Jersey’s own Jim Miller. The younger Miller brother must be weary of the home field advantage, as last time the UFC visited The Swamp, Miller was submitted by Nate Diaz in the main event. It was the latest loss in an alternating series for Miller, who hasn’t won back to back fights since his incredible seven fight win streak ended in 2011. Miller bounced back from the Diaz loss with a victory over Joe Lauzon in an absolute war. Here, Miller looks to get some traction at 155 pounds. A well rounded fighter, Miller is more accustomed to getting the tap out from opponents. Those looking to defeat him should do so by decision, as three of Miller’s four losses have been by the method.

Speaking of well rounded fighters with big winning streaks under their belts, Miller’s opponent for the evening is Pat Healy. A veteran of eight Strikeforce fights, Healy is currently on a six fight win streak. It’s quite the reward for the man with 45 career fights, as Healy has seen his share of ups and downs. His record (29-16) may not be spectacular, but Healy has fought some big names in his time. Paul Daley, Dan Hardy and Carlos Condit are just some of the names Healy holds a win over. Pretty impressive, eh? The key to the fight for Bam Bam will likely be to try and wear down his opponent for the decision win.

Mr. Wonderful is back. One (official) fight removed from his first career loss, Davis looks to be strong as ever. After losing a decision to Rashad Evans, Davis bounced back with an eventual second round submission of Wagner Prado in a fight where he looked dominant. The win was the fourth sub win for Davis and while he has mentioned using subs here, that may not be the best idea. Other that unorthodox submissions, Davis had outstanding wrestling that only Evans had any idea how to deal with. In the stand up department, Davis has the reach to give anyone problems, although foes have had success catching kicks.

It’s an old school wrestling versus BJJ matchup, as Davis’ opponent for Saturday is Vinny Magalhaes. Pezao returned to the octagon last year after a hiatus and defeated Igor Pokrajac by submission. It was just the latest in a long line of sub victories for the 2011 ADCC gold medalist. A long time BJJ fighter, Magalhaes has made strides in his standup game in recent years. He TKO’ed Bellator tournament finalist in his last appearance before the UFC came calling again. In fact, two of his five appearances for M1 ended via TKO. He’s been improving his striking, but Magalhaes would still likely prefer a ground battle here.

Our third main card fight of the evening is a battle that was originally booked for UFC 116 in 2010. The owner of a two fight win streak, Roy Nelson has seemingly found his grove in the heavyweight division. Relatively new to intense striking training, Nelson has picked up the technique very quickly, as four of his past five wins have come via first round knockout. A giant right hand isn’t Nelson’s only weapon, as he has a BJJ black belt under Renzo Gracie, although we haven’t seen his submission skills in the UFC thus far.

Nelson’s opponent for UFC 159 is the ever imposing Cheick Kongo. The French kick boxer will be looking to impress after his much maligned victory over Shawn Jordan at UFC 149. That night, Kongo appeared fine with playing it safe, but won’t have that option with an opponent like Nelson. A dangerous fighter, Kongo is the owner of seven UFC stoppages. Kongo and Nelson share a number of common opponents, with mostly the same results. They both holds wins over Cro Cop and Matt Mitrione, while falling to Frank Mir. The only difference is that Nelson finished his opponents, while Kongo won clear cut decisions. Look for Kongo to implement a clinch heavy strategy to tire Nelson out before going in for the kill.

The evening’s co-main event sees two top ten middleweights looking to rebound. Last time out, Michael Bisping was TKO’ed by Vitor Belfort in Brazil. It was the third middleweight loss for Bisping, with all three coming to tough fighters.  That seems to be Bisping’s philosophy- lose to the top of the division, but beat everyone else. Bisping’s last win came at UFC 152, where he survived a late first round rocking to defeat Brian Stann. Some have questioned Bisping’s KO power, but with such a well rounded skill set, he has many ways to win.

Fresh off beating Rousimar Palhares at his own game, Alan Belcher decided it was time for revenge. Unfortunately for Belcher, Yushin Okami had other ideas. Okami improved to 2-0 against The Talent last time out. It was a setback for Belcher, who prior was on a four fight win streak. Here, Belcher looks to start another streak. The owner of five black belts (including one in kick boxing); Belcher is a very dangerous opponent for anyone. In the standup, watch out for the head kick and other surprise attacks. On the ground, Belcher has strong strikes and submissions but has struggled with strong wrestlers.

The champ is here. UFC 159 marks Jon Jones’ fifth title defense. If successful, he will tie Tito Ortiz for most in light heavyweight history. What can be said about Jones? Out of 12 UFC fights, he’s looked mortal for maybe a round and a half combined. The owner of an 84.5 inch reach, Jones has really learned how to use it to his advantage. Look at the Evans fight, where the challenger had all kinds of trouble getting inside on the champion. On the ground, Jones’ wrestling is a thing of beauty. Mix that in with vicious elbows, and no one will want to end up under Jones. He’s also submitted black belts in two of his last three fights. We don’t know how good Jones is off his back, as his UFC takedown defense is still 100 per cent.

Jones has faced his fare share of MMA legends, but he hasn’t faced an American Gangster– not yet. Chael Sonnen originally earned his title shot by offering to fight Jon Jones on one week’s notice and save UFC 151. The fight didn’t take place then, but was put on hold. Now, after a season of The Ultimate Fighter which featured more friendship than feud, these two collide.Here, Sonnen looks for his first win at light heavyweight in the UFC. Last time Sonnen was present in the octagon, he was TKO’ed by Anderson Silva in a fight that was a long time coming. It erased a two fight win streak that saw Sonnen submit Brian Stann and decision Bisping. A former NCCA All American, Sonnen’s relentless takedowns and heavy ground and pound are his bread and butter. If he has a weakness, it’s that submission defense, as Sonnen has been tapped eight times in his career.

Main Card

–          UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: Jon Jones © vs. Chael Sonnen

–          Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher

–          Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo

–          Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes

–          Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy

 

 

 

 

 

Follow John Boldrick on Twitter @JohnBJournalism

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