Florian on Chael Sonnen’s best chance

Friday, April 26, 2013

Not many give Chael Sonnen a chance Saturday night vs. Jon Jones.  But then, not many gave Chael Sonnen much of a chance vs. Anderson Silva, and in their first fight, he was not far from his description of “beating Silva for every second of every round.” Until, of course, he tapped.

TV analyst Kenny Florian knows title fights, having fought in three of them, and during a MetroPCS fan Q&A Wednesday, Florian told fans how The Gangster from Oregon might take a fight with Jon Jones.

Pressure, pressure, pressure.

For Sonnen, really, it’s one of the only strategies not dependent on a lucky punch.

This week, Jones himself noted his ability to “mesmerize” opponents with his creative and unpredictable attacks, and he’s right. Mixing side kicks to the knees with winging hooks, spinning attacks and trip-takedowns from the clinch, and sharp, punishing elbows on the mat, he’s an opponent who’s hard to set up and hard to counter, whether you’re trying to strike with him or take him to the ground.

When you add to that a reach advantage that’s unparalleled in the sport, Jones can take you out of the fight before you really get in it.

But, as Florian and others have correctly pointed out, those tools aren’t as effective when the opponent isn’t stationary, and certainly not when he’s mesmerized. Jones has yet to face someone who’s made him fight on the defensive. He has yet to meet someone who’s gotten in his face at every turn and took the fight to him. Someone who turns a cagefight into a fistfight.

If Sonnen has proven anything in the past years, it’s that he’s capable of doing just that. He twice took the fight to the other scariest guy in the sport, Anderson Silva. He lost on both occasions due to lapses in defense and in judgement, and because he was fighting the most merciless counter-fighter in the octagon, they were mistakes he couldn’t afford to make. But because Jones hasn’t yet proven his ability to finish in the same sudden, violent way as his middleweight counterpart, the strategy becomes more plausible.

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So what do you think UG? How can Chael Sonnen beat Anderson Silva?