UFC 159 (Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen) – Roundtable Discussion And Picks For Main Card

As always the staff of Inside Fights has come together to make picks regarding this weekend’s main card. Participating as follows:

Scott Sawitz, Managing Editor/Featured Columnist
Daniel Sohn, Staff Writer
Ryan Frederick, Staff Writer
Luke Cy, Staff Writer
Chris Roberts, Staff Writer

Jon Jones (c) vs. Chael Sonnen

Roberts – The main card of UFC 159 is filled with large underdogs who I would love to see win but who probably just won’t, and really there is nobody I will be cheering for more than Chael Sonnen. Entertaining shtick aside he is the one who stands in the way of Jones and his sport-killing desire for Superfights. Alas, look for this fight to look like a lot like Jones’ last fight when he beat up and overwhelmed another implanted Middleweight. That’s not to say that Sonnen can’t take him down and keep him down for a round or so but there’s no way he’s able to enact that game over 25 minutes. While on the juice he did it to Anderson Silva for a good 23 and a half minutes but even that isn’t enough to win the title and at this point in history Jones is the tougher opponent. Jones via 3rd Round TKO.

Keyes – While I don’t doubt that Sonnen will be able to take Jones down, I do doubt that he’ll be able to hold him down for five straight rounds and secure his only route to victory. Jones holds serious advantages over Sonnen in all other areas and I fully expect Jones to justify the lengthy odds placed on him by the bookies. Jones

FREDERICK: Most everyone is counting Chael Sonnen out in this fight against Jon Jones. I refuse to do so. Do I think he will win? Not really. However, I do think he has a little bit of a chance, certainly more than most people do. Jones should take this fight, but Sonnen has proven to never count him out. Jones wins, and I don’t think he finishes Sonnen. Jones

Sohn : Gonna be the odd one out on this and go with Sonnen, just for the hell of it. Everyone and his mama is picking Jones to win, but I think Sonnen drinks from the Fountain of Youth (and TRT) to pull off the unthinkable. Sonnen

Cy: Even the most loyal of Sonnen fans would find it difficult to make a case for the ‘American Gangster’ to come up trumps. The question to me is more whether he will be able to remain competitive against the champion. If Sonnen can dump Jones on his back it would be a small victory in itself but either way I expect Jones to light Sonnen up on the feet and force the stoppage within two rounds.  Jones

Sawitz: I like Sonnen’s style but I don’t see how he can win three rounds off of Jones.  My guess is the fight resembles the rematch with Silva in that Chael gets the takedown early, Jones adjusts and then finishes him in short order.  Jones

Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher

Roberts:  Bisping may still be boo boo lipped over Vitor Belfort and his not so organic win over him a few months ago but hopefully he’ll be able to suck it up and focus on Alan Belcher because another loss for the Brit could be the permanent end of his drive for the title. This being a 3 rounder certainly works to his advantage as he’ll be able to dance around the cage while scoring style points. As long as he can avoid getting rocked he should be able to win this fight and I will at least give him the benefit of the doubt that he is a craftier fighter than Palhares and won’t allow the powerful Belcher to tee off on his nose at point blank range. Bisping via Decision.

Keyes: I see Bisping using his superior footwork to evade Belcher’s dangerous striking game, whilst throwing in a few takedowns to keep Belcher guessing en route to a decision victory. Bisping

FREDERICK: I personally love this matchup. Bisping brings out a passion in a lot of people that most fighters in the sport are unable to do, and he is really a figure you want around. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a quality fighter. Both had tough losses in their last fight, but Bisping generally bounces back nicely from losses. Look at his fights against Denis Kang and Brian Stann for examples. He takes this. Bisping

Sohn: Belcher is a very talented and entertaining fighter, both standing and on the ground. But he just signed up for 3 rounds at the Michael Bisping school of wrestling. Bisping stays in the Top 5 at MW. Bisping

Cy: Bad blood seems to follow Bisping around more than most as his contemporaries continue to call him out yet it only seems to fuel the Brit who has bounced back strongly in the past after tasting defeat. I expect Belcher to come out swinging and look for the early finish but I believe Bisping will survive and establish his rhythm to eek out a decision. Bisping

Sawitz: Belcher’s always been an entertaining fighter but I’ve never been convinced he was elite.  Bisping, on the other hand, I’ve always thought as being on the cusp of elite.  Belcher flunked the Okami test and I think he flunks this one just as poorly.  Bisping

Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo

Roberts: This is a tricky one to pick mainly because I don’t see either of these guys being finished and both of them work best as finishers. That goes especially for Roy Nelson who looks like a giant killer when knocking people out and an out of shape slop when being taken to decision. I will go against that bit of history though as I expect him to put enough of a hurting on the aging Kongo to win 2 out of 3 round. Nelson via Decision.

Keyes: In a battle of the gatekeepers, I’m backing Big Country. Can see Nelson being able to withstand Kongo’s crisper strikes before landing a big one of his own to put the sculpted Parisian out. Nelson

FREDERICK: I don’t see this getting past the first round as I stated in my breakdown of the fight. That being said, it could be a very exciting fight while it lasts. Nelson’s knockout power against Kongo’s questionable chin is the real fight here. Nelson’s power will win the fight, and we could be seeing Kongo’s career going to sleep with him. Nelson

Sohn: Two tough guys who love to stand and bang. Nelson has shown the ability to KO tall guys before, but Kongo also knows how to get out of trouble. If we get an in-shape Nelson, look for him to add Kongo to his “tall guys I’ve KO’d” list. Nelson

Cy: This could be an entertaining slugfest for as long as it lasts as the heavyweights have a habit of ending things with a bang, particularly when ‘Big Country’ is involved. On the other hand, if Kongo can utilize his athleticism and superior reach as well as control the shorter man in the clinch he could frustrate Nelson. Against my better judgement I’m taking Kongo by split decision. Kongo

Sawitz: I like both fighters but I think Kongo is on the down slope of his career.  Nelson doesn’t have much to go before he hits that point in his career, as well, but I think he’s got too much chin for the Frenchman to handle.  This won’t end well. Nelson

Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes

Roberts : My upset pick of the night finds the dangerous and determined Vinny Magalhaes taking on the cocky and arrogant Phil Davis. Sorry to say but the last year plus has not been kind to Mr. Wonderful who got embarrassed by Rashad Evans and then was booked against the inept Chad Griggs before getting dragged into two fights against Wagner Prado. Certainly his skills are duller now than they were 2 years ago at this time and everything I’ve heard leading into this fight has him taking the taking submission ace lightly. Expect that to work against him in a major way. Magalhaes via 1st Round Submission

Keyes: This is an interesting one. The UFC could have quite easily billed this as wrestling vs jiu jitsu such is the level of skill each opposing grappler possesses. I’m leaning towards Davis to outmuscle Magalhaes on the ground and snatch the W with well timed takedowns. Davis

FREDERICK: Magalhaes is getting thrown right to the wolves in his second fight since returning to the UFC, and quite frankly, that is the way he wanted it. He wants to submit Davis, but Davis has shown that is easier said than done. Davis has said he wants to submit Magalhaes- that may be nearly impossible. Ultimately, it likely stays on the feet where Davis scores more to win. Davis

Sohn: Classic case of wrestling vs. BJJ. Davis has one loss in the UFC, to Rashad Evans. He’s never been submitted. Davis trains with Jake Shields and is no stranger to subbing guys himself. Look for him to showcase his improving skillset and come out victorious. Davis

Cy:  Another grudge match this time at light heavyweight in a classic wrestler vs Jiu Jitsu match-up. Magalhaes is a wizard on the mat but will he be able to entice Davis into a ground battle? He may have to pull guard to do so but I think Davis will utilize excellent posture and heavy hips to remain out of danger and put on a dominating performance to earn a unanimous decision. Davis

Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy

Roberts: Strikeforce vets have been taking care of business in the UFC thus far and while I would love to see the perpetual underdog Pat Healy pull off a shocker I would have to classify betting on his as a very bad move. Miller was a straight killer back in December against Joe Lauzon and I expect his wrestling and power to be too much for Bam Bam to overcome. Plus he has home cage advantage… not that I believe in such things. Miller via 2nd Round TKO.

Keyes – This fight should hopefully be a back and forth war with both men preferring to suffocate their opponent with relentless pressure in pursuit of victory. I rate Pat Healy as a fighter but I expect Miller to have the beating of him in a closely contested affair. Miller

Frederick:  This is a very fascinating fight to me. Miller should not be as underrated as he is at times, and Healy is criminally underrated as he moves over from Strikeforce. Miller is an exciting fighter while Healy is a grinder. This could be a very fun fight and will come down to who executes their gameplan better. It is hard to ever count out a Miller Brother, and Jim will take the win in his home state. Miller

Sohn: Healy last fought in the UFC some five-odd years ago. He’s fought guys at the level of Miller…and lost. Miller is hungry to get to the peak of the LW mountain. It’s Miller Time. Miller takes this one with authority. Miller

Cy: The former Strikeforce number one contender has his hands full as he joins a stacked lightweight class and he will have to be on top form if he is to dislodge the well-rounded Miller. The key for Healey will be to use his size and strength to drag Miller into a grappling match where he has shone against elite competition. If he cannot dictate where the fight takes place he could end up being out struck and out worked. I fancy Miller to avoid the scrambles and pick apart his opponent with his superior striking on route to a UD. Miller

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