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Chael Sonnen Considering Move To Light Heavyweight

Chael Sonnen is continuing his quest for the UFC championship. Sonnen has not given up his quest for UFC gold but may be chasing a different champion going into 2013. Sonnen is considering a move to 205 and looking towards Jon Jones’ light heavyweight title.

In an interview with Ariel Helwani on UFC Tonight, Sonnen revealed that he is considering a move up to the UFC’s 205 pound light heavyweight division.

The is simply an option to start over by changing weight class,” said Sonnen. “My mentors have done it, and it could happen. I would go up to 205. Jon Jones. There are some great guys at 185, but traditionally and historically, it is a good way to get a fresh start and start over.

Sonnen is taking a move right out of the Rich Franklin playbook. Franklin also lost two UFC middleweight title fights to Silva (although a lot more decisively than Sonnen) and wound up leaving the division after his second loss, although he is working on a comeback. A move to 205 would open up a lot of new possibilities and give more marquee value to the UFC’s most star-studded division.

Just the idea of Sonnen moving up to light heavyweight has to have Dana White and the UFC brass excited. Let’s face it. If Jon Jones can defeat Dan Henderson in December, he has no intriguing challengers left to fight. In a year and a half Jones would have gone through Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua, Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson, and Henderson. Rematches would be tough to sell considering that Jones dominated all of the earlier fights. Sonnen would bring a new face to the division and a big time money fight for Jones and the UFC.

At 35-years old the UFC probably wouldn’t want to waste any time with Sonnen. I could easily see scenario where Sonnen is awarded a championship fight after one win. UFC fans just saw a very similar scenario with Kenny Florian where he was awarded a championship fight with one win in his new division simply because he was a name. Like him or not, Sonnen is arguably the most polarizing figure in the UFC so any chance that Zuffa could get at putting him in a high profile fight I am sure they would take it.

Could Sonnen actually make a run in the division? Sonnen reportedly fought his UFC 148 fight against Anderson Silva at 215 pounds. Yep, you read that right. Sonnen weighed in at 185 and put on an extra 30 by fight time. Some have argued that Sonnen got tired early due to the drastic cut and gain. I have read some reports that claim Sonnen walks around at 230. Walking around at 230 and fighting at 230 are two different things. He’d be light, real light at 215, and it is fair to question whether his takedowns would be as effective against much bigger men.

But could he actually make a run in the division? It all comes down to that first fight. The division has a ton of great wrestlers. Rashad Evans is an opponent that immediately comes to mind. I am sure the UFC would love to book a fight with the two best talkers in the sport. As much as I have no interest in seeing that fight today, I have a feeling they’d talk me into it. My hunch is that Evans would be too big and strong for Sonnen to take down. It’s a risky fight if the end game is Jones vs. Sonnen.

Another option would be to book Sonnen against Lyoto Machida or Shogun Rua, should both win on the next UFC on Fox special. Sonnen and Machida have been trading insults for the last year, so there is a natural rivalry right there. Shogun would probably be the smarter fight because Sonnen would have a 50/50 shot depending upon which Shogun showed up. Either fight is a fight that I am sure Sonnen could hype well and turn into a big success.

A Sonnen vs. Jones fight could be one of the biggest fights of 2013. Sonnen would have a field day insulting Jones and cutting promos on him for the months leading up to the fight. As unpopular as Jones is today, he may actually turn into a fan favorite out of sympathy depending upon what Sonnen says. There is some nice potential here for a ton of hype and I think Sonnen could sell this fight on fans either wanting to see him shut up once and for all or intrigued seeing if he could do to Jones what he did to Silva at UFC 117. Nobody has committed to taking Jones down as part of their game plan. I am intrigued to think about what would happen if Sonnen took the fight to Jones like he did to Silva and how Jones would respond. It’s a great story and a story that will sell a million or so pay per views if the fight happens.

Sonnen hasn’t made a decision yet on moving up or staying at 185. As soon as he makes a decision we’ll have complete analysis here on the Camel Clutch Blog.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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