NEWARK, N.J. – While longtime middleweight Chael Sonnen was a long shot in his bid for the UFC light-heavyweight title, some believed that if he could get champ Jon Jones on his back, he might have a chance. Quite simply, though, he couldn’t.
Instead, Jones survived a gruesome toe injury and punched out the challenger in the first round.
The light-heavyweight title bout headlined today’s UFC 159 event at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.
As promised, Sonnen pushed forward quickly at the bell, though it was Jones who scored the first takedown. Sonnen, who recently coached opposite Jones on “The Ultimate Fighter 17,” scrambled up to his feet, and Jones surprisingly elected to fight inside the clinch rather than use his massive reach advantage. Several takedowns followed as Jones seemed intent to prove he was the superior wrestler. A barrage of punches and elbows followed, and Sonnen was clearly in trouble as he lay on his side.
As Jones methodically picked apart the undersized challenger, he pulled Sonnen’s arm away and blasted him with vicious elbow strikes and a devastating knee to the body. The onslaught ripped apart Sonnen’s face, and referee Keith Peterson called a stop to the fight with 27 seconds left in the opening frame.
In a bizarre turn of events, as Jones celebrated his victory, he looked down to notice a gruesome break of his left big toe. It quite possibly could have threatened to end the fight in freak fashion had Jones not gotten the first-round stoppage.
Afterward, Jones said he didn’t immediately know when the injury occurred.
“I don’t know, but when my adrenaline calms down, I’m going to be in some pain tonight,” he said.
With the win, the 25-year-old Jones ties UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz’s record for the most-consecutive defenses of the UFC light-heavyweight title at five. It also ends a months-long feud with Sonnen that began with this past September’s canceled UFC 151 event and continued through their stints as “TUF 17? coaches.
“I was just so happy to get past Chael Sonnen,” Jones (18-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) said. “Chael Sonnen’s an awesome opponent. We went through a lot of drama that motivated me a lot.
“I really wanted to try to ‘Chael Sonnen’ Chael Sonnen. I think I did a good job of that.”
Meanwhile, Sonnen (27-13-1 MMA, 6-6 UFC) has now fallen short in three UFC title fights in his past five appearances, which included a pair of defeats to middleweight champ Anderson Silva. He remained gracious in defeat and hinted that his fighting days may be done.
“He’s an excellent fighter,” Sonnen said. “I have no problem with the decision or the stoppage. He’s very powerful. When he went for the kill, he never stopped. I thought I was alright, but I think he’s the better fighter.
“I’m not going to be one of the guys to hang around. If there’s not a road to the title, then this sport isn’t for me. I believe that was probably my last opportunity.”
Complete UFC 159 results include:
- Champ Jon Jones def. Chael Sonnen via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:33 – retains light-heavyweight title
- Michael Bisping def. Alan Belcher via technical decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Roy Nelson def. Cheick Kongo via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 2:03
- Phil Davis def. Vinny Magalhaes via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Pat Healy def. Jim Miller via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 4:02
- Rustam Khabilov def. Yancy Medeiros via TKO (thumb injury) – Round 1, 2:32
- Ovince St. Preux def. Gian Villante via majority technical decision (30-28, 30-29, 29-29) – Round 3, 0:33
- Sara McMann def. Sheila Gaff via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:06
- Bryan Caraway def. Johnny Bedford via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 4:44
- Cody McKenzie def. Leonard Garcia via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Steven Siler def. Kurt Holobaugh via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
For complete coverage of UFC 159, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
Matt Erickson and Steven Marrocco contributed to this report on-site in Newark.