UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen -- Wrestling Observer Picks & Preview

UFC 159

By Josh Nason

So here we are, friends. It's the fourth straight week of UFC events and we close out with one of the more oddly matched title fights in recent history. It's UFC 159 from Newark, NJ, aka the Chael and Jonny Bones Show.

Our panel:

- Dave Meltzer (28-18): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

Todd Martin (30-16): Weekly FFD guest | LA Times | Sherdog

- Mike Sempervive (24-22): Wrestling Observer Live | Big Audio Nightmare

- Mike Sawyer (30-16)
of ToughTalkMMA.com

- Josh Nason
(31-15): Wrestling Observer web editor, social media guy

Oliver Copp (25-21) of combat sports insider fame

- Bryan Alvarez (22-11): Figure Four Weekly founder and writer

Jon Jones (17-1) vs. Chael Sonnen (27-12-1)

There's not much else that can be said about the 25-year-old Jones, who looks for the 4th defense of his UFC 205-pound title Saturday night. Despite his last two fights going past the 4th round, he's only gone the distance once in the last three years -- a span of nine fights.

Much has been made of the 36-year-old Sonnen's opportunity here, a title shot in a division he hasn't competed in for years and years. He also hasn't competed since last July, the much-ballyhooed 2nd round TKO defeat to rival Anderson Silva. If Sonnen has one shot, it's to rush Jones and put the pressure on him early. Remember that no one gave him a shot against Silva and he almost pulled it off. However, I'm concerned about his focus going into this fight, given that he's been a fixture on Fuel and Fox broadcasts. Does he seem focused to you?

Jones: Alvarez, Sawyer, Copp, Martin, Sempervive, Meltzer, Nason

Michael Bisping (23-5) vs. Alan Belcher (18-7)

Whether it's an act or not, these two have been jawing at each other for some time. Legit heat? Apparently so and I think it's going to make this fight more interesting as a result. The 34-year-old Brit was last seen getting TKO'd by Vitor Belfort in January, snuffing out his title shot at Silva. He's in full heel mode for this fight against the under-appreciated Belcher, a winner in four of his last five. He may not have the charisma of his opponent, but he's legit…even coming off a disappointing decision loss in December to Yushin Okami.

Bisping: Alvarez, Copp, Sempervive, Meltzer
Belcher: Sawyer, Martin, Nason

Roy Nelson (18-7) vs. Cheick Kongo (18-7-2)

In the non-talked about fight of the night, the 36-year-old Nelson looks to extend a two-fight win streak. In this two wins, he's worked less than four minutes and scored two knockouts. The 37-year-old Kongo has been out of action since a dreadfully dull decision win over Shawn Jordan last July. Despite some knocks against his stamina, Kongo has lost just once in his last six fights.

Nelson: Alvarez, Sawyer, Copp, Martin, Sempervive, Meltzer, Nason

Phil Davis (10-1-0-1) vs. Vinny Magalhaes (10-5-0-1)

If you watched the Countdown show (well worth it, by the way), you know this fight came together via the magic of social media. I'm most interested in seeing how Davis' striking is coming as that's the only part of his game that is still lacking a bit. He's coming off a 2nd round October submission win over Wagner Prado. Magalhaes returned to the Octagon in September with a 2nd round submission win over Igor Pokrajac, his sixth straight win. Has the BJJ ace bitten off more than he can submit?

Davis: Alvarez, Martin, Sempervive, Meltzer, Nason
Magalhaes: Sawyer, Copp

Jim Miller (22-4) vs. Pat Healy (29-16)

If you put these two next to each other, they look like brothers. The 29-year-old Miller rebounded in a big way from his title eliminator defeat in a Fight of the Year candidate decision win over Joe Lauzon. After two failed attempts to get a title shot against Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez, Healy gets an opportunity to shine on a bigger stage Saturday. Healy has won six straight and has fought in the Octagon once: a first round submission loss to the eternal Anthony Torres in August 2006.

Miller: Alvarez, Sawyer, Copp, Martin, Sempervive, Meltzer, Nason

Check out all the action on Facebook, FX and pay-per-view, complete with live running play-by-play from Dave.

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