Story of the Week: Jones defeats Sonnen, comes close to losing title on technicality
Is it just me, or does it sometimes feel like Jon Jones' sole purpose in life is to refute the hoary cliche about how "anything can happen in a fight?"
Sure, intellectually we may realize that for all Jones' talent he's still just a man who can, and most likely eventually will, be defeated. Once the Octagon door shuts it's a different story though. Then Jones is more like a force of nature - frightening in his capacity to inflict sudden devastation; awe-inspiring in his prodigious genius.
At the risk of coming across overly hyperbolic, watching fighters like Jones and Anderson Silva often makes me think of James Weldon Johnson's famous line, "Your arms are too short to box with God." Much like the metaphysical boxing match Johnson first alluded to back in the late 1920's, the outcome of a Jon Jones fight always feels like a foregone conclusion. Jones may not be a god, but considering the ease with which he habitually outclasses the best light heavyweights on Earth, he doesn't exactly seem 100% human either.
Chael Sonnen found this out the hard way at UFC 159. In the days after the fight Sonnen likened fighting Jones to "wrestling a bear." It was an apropos metaphor. For all of the UFC Tonight makeup crew's best efforts to make Sonnen appear presentable in his role as an analyst on the weekly news show, this past Tuesday the lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest looked like a hapless hiker whose nose had found itself on the business end of a bear's paw.
There was a reason for this: the fight turned out to be a one sided trashing. Jones had his way with Sonnen for the entirety of the first round - taking the former NCAA Division 1 All American wrestler down with ease and peppering him with strikes. Eventually referee Kieth Peterson decided he had seen enough when Jones had Sonnen pinned up against the cage and was pounding on his helpless opponent with a series of punches and elbows.
To tell the truth, the ease with which Jones dispatched of Sonnen didn't feel all that special at the time. There was a reason Sonnen was a 9 to 1 dog heading into the fight after all.
But when Joe Rogan went to interview Jones in the middle of the Octagon after the victory, things got memorable in a hurry. During the fight Jones' left big toe had been dislocated at a gruesome angle and was covered in blood. There was no way he was coming out for a second round. As it turned out Jones was just a little over 30 seconds away from losing the title on a technicality.
It was then and there I decided to chuck rationality out the window and allow myself to start entertaining the idea that the hand of destiny might be guiding Jones each time he steps foot in the Octagon.
Even when a freak accident came within seconds of costing him the title, he still found a way to look like a super hero en route to getting his belt strapped around his waist for the sixth time. It's almost like we're in the midst of some epic story that ends with Jones going down in history as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
It may be childish to talk in such absolute terms about a fellow human being. Real life, after all, seldom conforms to such a tidy narrative. However, as Jones seemingly pushes the boundaries of possibility with each passing fight, it's easy to find yourself believing he's capable of achieving what would be impossible for most ordinary mortals.
Following Jones loss Sonnen hints at retirement, calls out Wanderlei Silva three days later
Chael Sonnen may still have the largest arms and all the charm, but last Saturday he was the one on the receiving end of all the harm thanks to a steady diet of fists and elbows served up by Jon Jones. What's worse, the perennial runner up Sonnen once again failed to win the big one. Naturally he was more than a little disappointed about all this when interviewed in the Octagon after the fight by Joe Rogan.
"I’m not going to be one of the guys to hang around," a reflective Sonnen told Rogan. "If there’s not a road to the title, then this sport isn’t for me. I believe that was probably my last opportunity.”
But as they say, time - and the idea of making some huge paydays paydays - has a way of healing all wounds.
Despite his banged up face, Sonnen was back in the saddle as an analyst on UFC Tonight this Tuesday. He took the opportunity to call out Wanderlei Silva.
The fight is reportedly being considered for a spot on the debut FOX Sports 1 card on August 17th, which would likely be a good move considering the impressive number Silva drew when he fought on Fuel last March and Sonnen's position as one of the bigger stars in the company from a name recognition standpoint.
It's a win/win for everyone involved since Sonnen is too valuable of a commodity at the moment to call it a day, Silva gets a match that shines an even bigger spotlight on him coming off his impressive KO of Brian Stann in the fight of the year so far, and the awkwardly-monikered UFC on Fox Sports 1 1 gets a fight that should generate lots of fan interest.
Now let's just hope Sonnen is working on some more material for his promos. He should be in rare form against an opponent like Silva.
As for the Axe Murderer, judging from his tweet in reply to Sonnen where he wrote, "The real man talk face to face!" it sounds sounds almost like he's getting help from the Iron Sheik writing his promos this time around. Not only does Silva's tweet display the Sheik's propensity to misuse the word "the," but the smoking gun is the use of the former WWF world champion's pet phrase "the real." If Silva goes ahead and drops the word "humble" in the lead up to this fight, well, let's just say I wouldn't advise letting your kids watch Sonnen/Silva.
Ratner to request rule changes
If by chance you're some kind of weirdo with a fetish for eye pokes, this past weekend's UFC 159 was the card for you.
First there was referee Kevin Mulhal stopping the fight after Ovince St. Preux pawed Gian Villante in the eye, leading to a technical decision victory for St. Preux. That one was bad.
Then there was Micheal Bisping jamming his finger directly in Alan Belcher's surgically repaired eye, causing Belcher to crumble to the mat in pain with blood oozing from his already swollen eye. That was like a 20 car pile up on the side of the road with a landscape of twisted metal, burning engines, and severed limbs as far as the eye can see.
Luckily some good may come out of both these unfortunate situations, since it appears they were the last straw in forcing the UFC to finally take action on the eye poke epidemic.
UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner revealed to MMAJunkie.com last week that he plans to file a formal request with the Association of Boxing Commissions in order to change the rule that currently leaves the decision on whether a fighter with an injured eye can continue or not in the referee's hands.
While he's at it, Ratner also wants to address the dreaded "three point stance" rule where fighters place one hand on the ground in order to avoid knees to the head, since there's no logical reason a knee to the head should hurt worse if one's fingers are grazing the canvas. Well unless we're living in that alternate reality where a 12-6 elbow can shatter a man's skull in half like a 2X4 set up over some bricks at a karate exhibition.
Station Casinos' Owned Ultimate Poker becomes first site to offer legal online poker in US
I'll be the first to admit I don't know anything about gambling. The one time I was in Vegas I watched my girlfriend lose about $100 at a roulette table and contended myself with polishing off the free drinks her gambling netted us. My knowledge of poker consists exclusively of what I learned playing the Nintendo game Casino Kid back in elementary school, most of which I've forgotten in the ensuing 20+ years since.
However, what I do know about poker, is people like to play it. Lots and lots of people.
Which is why it's great news for the UFC that the Fertitta-owned Station Casinos are the first in what is sure to be a plethora of legal online gaming sites in the United States. Their Ultimate Poker website offered its first deal this past Tuesday.
While Nevada is currently the only state to sanction online gaming, if other states follow suit this could mean a huge revenue stream for the majority owners of the UFC. Getting in on the ground floor of this movement gives them a chance to establish their name brand from the get-go, which can only be a good thing for the Fertittas.
One thing to keep an eye on with this story though, is what lobbying efforts the Nevada Culinary Workers Union may make to keep online gaming illegal. The culinary union is a big reason why MMA has remained illegal in New York, and it's hard to imagine they won't try to make things difficult for the Fertittas' latest venture. Considering these are the same bozos who sleazily invoked the Newtown Massacre in their attempts to keep MMA out of New York, there's no telling what they might do to keep the Fertittas' from succeeding with what could in theory one day be a huge source of revenue.