UFC 159 was a night beset by total chaos early and often this past Saturday night. A bizarre mixture of last minute cancellations, broadcast audio anomalies, freak injuries, and officiating errors lead to a tough night for the UFC in New Jersey. Ironically, a mixture of the last two brought the UFC close to the worst possible disaster in the main event and also saved the promotion a huge headache. MMAFrenzy takes a look back at the brush with disaster at UFC 159 in Newark.
Let me be clear, there would have been nothing wrong with Chael Sonnen pulling the upset and legitimately defeating UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones this past Saturday night. That said, the former middleweight contender was being thoroughly dominated by Jones before the champ’s toe decided to do its own thing and gave way. Jones did not notice the injury at first, and pounded on Sonnen until the referee stepped in. While the stoppage appeared early, had Sonnen survived for the remaining thirty seconds he would have become the champion and left the UFC in dire straights.
The quick stoppage was essentially a blessing in disguise for the UFC. While upsets can be fantastic for marketing under normal circumstances, the events of the fight negated the ability to make this kind of a push. Added to the possible mess was the marketing of this fight by the UFC, the promotion did their best to make the fight seem viable and justified but when the fight started it was clear – as many predicted – Sonnen had no place in the Octagon with Jones. Had the referee let Sonnen survive, thus winning the title by default, the rematch would have been an even tougher sale. Even Sonnen’s usual trash talk felt hollow this time, but some gave him the benefit of the doubt due to his promotional work and his first bout with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. In a rematch with Jones, that mystery is gone and an already hard bout to justify just seems like a sideshow.
The promotional effort for Sonnen versus Jones fight never quite felt right after people regained their senses following the UFC 151 fiasco and people witnessed the tepid interactions seen between the two once The Ultimate Fighter 17 debuted (ironically making the season better with the coaches actually focused on coaching). Having to go through another weak build-up would be the opposite of hyping a fight. Sonnen could have found a way to change it up in a rematch, but when a relatively one-dimensional fighter is beaten with his own skill set, that possibility seems remote.
In the end, while referee Keith Peterson’s decision to halt the UFC 159 main event may have been early, it oddly enough becomes the right decision in the grand scheme of things. The bout between the two fighters should never have been made in the first place, so if a tough judgement call is what saved us from having to deal with it again; so be it. Sonnen has always done his best to be a “company man” and probably realizes that the official’s decision to intervene was actually best for everyone. It is always tough to lose by a tough call but, in this case, it works out for the better.
Be sure to check out MMAFrenzy’s full coverage of UFC 159.
Photo Credit: Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports
Article by Chris Leslie