Friday, August 24, 2012

Was passing on the Sonnen fight the right move for Jones and Jackson?

Frasier Cofeen of Bloody Elbow thinks so
"Chael Sonnen may be coming up in weight, and he may be coming off a loss to Anderson Silva, but he remains a very dangerous opponent. More importantly, he presents a completely different stylistic challenge than Dan Henderson. Against Hendo, Jones's primary concern was avoiding the H Bomb KO punch; against Sonnen, it would be a complete change in training with a focus on takedown defense. That's a significant change, and 8 days is not much time to make it. That shortened time frame becomes an even bigger factor when you consider the amount of press Jones, as champion, would be expected to do fight week, leaving him less than 8 full days to adjust."
While Jack Slack argues that the fight was maybe too easy
This should be obvious to almost everyone: Chael Sonnen is not a light heavyweight, not a striker, and not likely to be able to give Jon Jones any trouble on the feet. This is clearly a hilarious mismatch and it's actually understandable that Jones would not want anything to do with this fight when it could lower his credibility immediately after signing with Nike. No-one wants to fight enormous mismatches when they are supposed to be proving that they are the best fighter in the world.
 But that Jones should have ultimately taken the fight
What it all comes down to, however, is that almost two dozen fighters on this card have made huge sacrifices, many of them living fight to fight on tight cash, for a card that is now cancelled. Jon Jones directly affected their livelihood and the lives of their families and children by refusing to fight a 185lbs wrestler. It's understandable that Jones wouldn't want to risk losing to a middleweight, but that's exactly what he was risking against Dan Henderson. Jon Jones trained a full camp for a 185lbs wrestler with a huge right hand, and he was asked to fight a 185lbs wrestler with little striking skill or punching power to speak of. When you boil it down to those facts, it's hard to side with Jon Jones.
I think for Greg Jackson advising Jon Jones against fighting Chael Sonnen was the right play. Chael Sonnen is almost as good at wrestling as he is at talking, which will always make him a tough fight. But he's not going to beat Jon Jones not for 25 minutes. The risk of losing isn't why I think Jackson's adviced Jones to pass on Sonnen, it's because Greg Jackson gains nothing from Jon Jones going out there and beating Chael Sonnen. As how much would Greg Jackson have had to do with the victory, having had so little time to study and tailor a fighter specific game plan for Sonnen?

For Jones on the other hand turning down a fight with Sonnen was a terrible decision and whoever is giving Jones managerial advice on this is crazy. From a business perspective "the Jones brand" just turned down a lucrative PPV opportunity against one of the top draws in the company, who also just so happens to be an extremely favorable match up. All while just recently complaining about his PPV #'s from his fight with Lyoto Machida. How is that good business? He's just alienated the fans who bought tickets and invested in traveling to Las Vegas for the show, not to mention those who provide the PPV numbers he's after. He's let down his employer who've invested a significant amount of money promoting him and the event. But most importantly he's let down 20 plus other fighters who were relying on him to anchor the card and as a result will not be getting paid, despite having invested considerably in their own training camps preparing for UFC 151, (Zuffa shoulders a huge chunk of blame for this as well). Simply put Jones took a serious opportunity to build up a ton of good will with his employer and his fans by taking a relatively low risk fight that would have had a huge upside for him personally, and professionally. But rather then realize that opportunity Bones Jones decided for what ever reason, to take his belt and go home.

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