When Greg Jackson counselled Jon Jones to decline a fight with Chael Sonnen on eight days notice, UFC 151 was cancelled, and Jackson was widely denounced. In response, Jackson said that they would be happy to accept a fight with Sonnen, just not, given just three days of preparation (five days of weight cutting and media duties immediately preceeds a title fight).
Now Jones and Sonnen are going to fight on April 27, 2013, following a season as opposing coaches on the 17th season of The Ultimate Fighter. In an appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Cheap Seats” program Jackson offered his thoughts.
“Sonnen is a great fighter. I’ve been in the trenches against Sonnen several times and seen what he is capable of when he is on, and what he does well. I would never disrespect Sonnen by saying, ‘Jon will roll right over this guy. That’s a gimme fight.’ Those fights don’t exist. I’ve been a veteran of this sport for 20 years. I’ve done more corners than anybody, by far. I’ve seen examples of things that we should have 100-percent won -- just walked over people -- and it’s either a tough fight, or we lose.”
“Sonnen is a heavy pressure fighter. He gets inside your range really well. People like Rashad are amazing fighters, but they play on the outside and then hit these wicked, very fast shots. Sonnen is a guy who is left-handed, and he brings a different kind of style than what Jon has faced before, which is exciting for both myself and Jon. [Sonnen’s] grinding, in-your-face style can be nullified. There’s no doubt we can nullify it, but it is a little bit different than everybody thinks it is. Losing to Anderson Silva twice doesn’t mean that [Sonnen] is washed up or that he’s not effective as a fighter. He’s actually a very good fighter, and he deserves a lot of respect.”
“I always feel that everybody has a legitimate chance, because it’s MMA. It [may not be] very likely, but there is no such thing as 100 percent. You have to believe that, because you have to stay hungry. If you [think], ‘Well, I’m just going to beat this guy,’ that’s usually the time that you get beat yourself. My job is just to make sure that we can get those chances as much as we can into Jon’s favor."
“I certainly don’t think it would be a wise strategy to get Jon really mad, but that’s something [Sonnen will] have to decide for himself," said Jackson. "When you get into Jon’s face, that’s definitely when he performs the best, for sure. He's very articulate, and he gets right to the point. It’s just that trash-talking isn’t usually his thing, but Jon is going to be one of the greatest fighters ever. That’s my belief. He’s something special, and he’s going to be at the top of the heap.”
“One thing about Jon Jones is that he is incredibly mentally tough. I think he’s going to learn from it and grow from it. You never want to underestimate Jon, because he is so mentally strong and very smart. I think it’s just going to make him tougher, especially mentally, to have to deal with all the stuff that will come along with the show."
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