The fight has come and gone, and at the end of the day it appears as though the Light Heavyweight title fight between Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones was indeed the mismatch that so many people thought it would be. The rest of the card was a mixed bag, including some highly entertaining bouts, some thoroughly lackluster bouts and a few controversial stoppages mixed with borderline terrible officiating in some cases. Let’s take a look back at the card that was UFC 159 and see what’s next for the main card fighters involved.
Lightweight Bout: Pat Healy defeated Jim Miller via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:02 of Round Three
The opening round of this bout went almost exactly as most people (including the bookies) expected it to. Miller dominated much of the action both standing and on the ground, in fact he came close to stopping the fight at one point. Then in the second round, the tide began to turn. Healy continued to grind against Miller, not abandoning his wrestling for a second, using takedowns and top control to steal back a round and make it even heading into the third. In the final round, Healy continued to keep up the pressure while Miller began to fade slightly. Healy took advantage on the ground of a Miller mistake and was able to sink in a Rear Naked Choke and coax a tap with less than a minute remaining in the fight.
What’s next for Miller? He’s doing nothing to shake his status as Lightweight gatekeeper. He’s a tough, well-rounded fighter but he struggled against Healy who seemed to dwarf him come fight time. This has some people speculating that a drop to Featherweight could be in Miller’s future. For now, we’ll assume he’s staying at Lightweight. He should take a fair step down in competition now that he’s lost 2 of his last 3. Brazilian Thiago Tavares could be a good match up for Miller when he’s done his suspension, or possibly former TUF winner Tony Ferguson.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis defeated Vinny Magalhaes via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
Phil Davis continued to win in mostly unimpressive fashion this weekend. Despite the trash talk leading up to this fight, Davis never let it bother him and never showed a lot of emotion during the fight. In some ways, that has to be considered a good sign, but in other ways, one really wonders why Davis was so uninspired to go after a finish. Despite dominating the first two rounds and well on his way in the third, Davis never looked to get overly aggressive or search out a finish, instead he was content to cruise the final minutes of the fight and lock up a decision. While it is another win for Davis, many fans are left complaining about Davis and his fights, which isn’t going to earn him a shot against Jon Jones any faster.
What’s next for Davis? Even though he didn’t show us any killer instinct or finishing ability, he still showed that he’s a dominant wrestler who can absolutely smother anyone underneath him. He has one career loss and that was to top contender Rashad Evans, so Davis should be working his way back to the top of the Light Heavyweight pecking order. Ryan Bader is a wrestling standout with big power and has a top ten ranking, he’s the fighter that probably makes the most sense for Davis right now.
What’s next for Magalhaes? Back to the unaired preliminary card is my guess. He did his best to sell and hype this fight on social media by engaging in a war of words with Davis, but he wasn’t able to do much inside the octagon where it counts. If Ilir Latifi is getting another fight in the UFC for doing them a solid in Sweden, match him against Magalhaes and get rid of the loser. Put that fight in Europe or Brazil and it seems like a fine fit to me.
Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson defeated Cheick Kongo via KO (Punch) at 2:03 of Round One
Cheick Kongo had a massive reach advantage heading into this fight and that was what some people believed would be the difference. Instead, Nelson did what he does best. Relied on his iron chin to close the distance and crowd Kongo up on the inside. He landed a couple of big right hands on a referee break from against the cage and Kongo was down for the count.
What’s next for Nelson? He’s fought a lot of the top names in the Heavyweight division and seems to be quite good at separating the upper-tier fighters from the lower-level fighters. At the post-fight press conference Dana said he’d like to match Nelson up with Strikeforce import Daniel Cormier should he stay at Heavyweight. That fight makes a whole lot of sense. The other potential fighter for Nelson is Travis Browne.
What’s next for Kongo? Kongo showed low fight IQ and despite his past as a professional kick boxer he often chooses to wrestle instead of striking, which makes for sometimes boring fights. I think the UFC could match him up with Stefan Struve. They’re both European, so a spot on the next International show makes sense and the match up will prove which one of them deserves to stay in the UFC and which the UFC could part with.
Middleweight Bout: Michael Bisping defeated Alan Belcher via Unanimous Technical Decision at 4:29 of Round Three
This bout was marred by a bit of an ugly ending as an accidental eye-poke from Bisping cut open Belcher’s eye lid and caused a stream of blood to come from the eye in the third round. Since it was ruled an accidental foul the bout went to the scorecards and Bisping won a Technical decision. With all of the trash talking these two men did leading up to their fight, many thought that they would come out guns blazing, but instead the opposite was true as neither man wanted to make a mistake in the opening minutes which led to an action light striking battle in the first round. In the second, Bisping became more aggressive and the Brit was landing in combinations. Belcher returned fire on several occasions, but often missed as Bisping did an excellent job of getting his shots off before shuffling away from the counter punches of Belcher. The third round featured more of the same, for the four minutes that it lasted as Bisping continued to land better combinations and get the better of Belcher in the striking.
What’s next for Bisping? Well, he’s still a top contender at Middleweight and seems incredibly popular with the fans, (who either despise him or really love him.) The UFC would love to have him work his way to a title shot, but he always seems to falter on the way. If the UFC wants to get him to a Middleweight title shot, they need to give him a couple of match ups that benefit him while gaining name recognition on his resume. The winner of the upcoming bout between Mark Munoz and Tim Boetsch would be a good candidate. Some fans are calling for a bout against Yushin Okami, but I think that’s a bad match up for Bisping and one the UFC will likely avoid, despite it making a lot of sense.
What’s next for Belcher? With his history of eye injuries (he was nearly blinded by a detached retina from an eye poke in a previous bout) one has to hope that this injury won’t be too damaging to his career. Still he proved that he’s at best a mid-tier fighter that can’t hang with the top fighters of the Middleweight division. Still he has exciting fights when they pair him against strikers so possible match ups include Nick Ring or Brian Stann.
Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Jon Jones defeated Chael Sonnen via TKO (Elbows and Punches) at 4:33 of Round One
Jon Jones shocked several fans when he went right after Chael Sonnen. Many people predicted that he would use his huge reach and kick boxing ability to fight at a distance and pick Sonnen apart from relative safety. Nonsense said coach Greg Jackson and Jon Jones who likely surprised Sonnen when he rushed him from the opening bell. He clinched with Sonnen and battled in close quarters for most part of the opening round. It was close for the first minute or so, but Jones used his size and strength advantage and began to overpower Sonnen. From there he got a takedown and swarmed with ground and pound. Delivering some big elbows that opened a cut on Sonnen’s face and then following it up with more punches and elbows until the referee stopped the fight. Although some people felt the stoppage was a bit premature it was unlikely that Sonnen would survive another 30 seconds and despite looking initially upset with the referee, when interviewed by Joe Rogan, Chael said that he had no problem with the stoppage. After the fight it was revealed that Jones had suffered a nasty toe injury, a likely dislocation at some point and needed doctor’s assistance as he completed his post-fight interview with Rogan.
What’s next for Sonnen? He seemed to tease retirement after the bout, but didn’t say much. If he does decide to hang it up, no one can blame him. He’s made a ton of money in his last few fights and surely has a job as a commentator on Fox for the foreseeable future. But if he does decide to fight and stay at Light Heavyweight, he should fight anyone who is Brazilian. Especially Wanderlei Silva or Lyoto Machida.