Former top contender in the 185 lb division for UFC Chael Sonnen has agreed to a match at 205 lbs against Forrest Griffin for the end of the year card. In typical Sonnen fashion, Sonnen has ratcheted up the rhetoric and has set his vocal target on 205 lb Champion Jon Jones. Thankfully, UFC President Dana White came out publicly to state that Sonnen will need a lot more than a win over Griffin to earn a title shot at lightheavyweight. And as much as Sonnen talks a good game, that is the right thing to do.
One of the most noticeable things about Sonnen’s last outing against Anderson Silva was how hard Sonnen’s weight cut appeared to be. He really looked drawn and withered, with cheeks and eyes sunken.
Though there are MMA skills that Sonnen does at an elite level, his advantage at 185 lbs was strength and control. At 205 lbs Sonnen will be a mid sized lightheavyweight at best. Once the strength and size department starts to equal out, and you get to skill, Sonnen may find himself losing matches before a title shot with Jon Jones even comes up.
Sonnen has a loss to Griffin already on his resume. He has lost multiple times to UFC cut Jeremy Horn and has losses to opponents with better skill sets.
Forrest isnt a higher skill set, but rather is a bigger, rugged fighter who Sonene isnt assured of beating. But if he does, now that the UFC is on record as stating he needs to do more than beat Forrest for a title shot, who would be next for Sonnen?
If Sonnen beats Griffin, the most beatable opponent for Sonnen in the UFC’s top 5 is probably Rashad Evans, who is a smaller and more compact lightheavyweight. ‘Shogun’ Rua looked a bit flat in his last outing, but Rua and the likes of Lyoto Machida would both be favored in a match with Sonnen.
Evans would be favored as well, however Sonnen has a shot against him, and on the B circuit, there is Phil Davis, and up and omers Alexander Gustafsson and Ryan Bader.
Despite the talk, Sonnen is highly unlikely to get to the level he did at 185 lbs in his new weight class.