The “American Gangster” Chael Sonnen is one of the most outspoken media personalities in the MMA world. This makes sense for the former fighter as he was one of the sharpest on a microphone in his day. As such, he has a solution for Jon Jones’ spat with Tom Aspinall.
Jon Jones is the current heavyweight champion, but he is out of fighting for at least the majority of 2023 due to a shoulder injury sustained in training for his fight against Stipe Miocic. In his place, Tom Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich squared off for the interim title. Aspinall soundly defeated Pavlovich in the first round, extending his streak of finishes to seven, six of which came in the first round.
Now, Jones is refusing to fight Aspinall when he returns, despite the whole premise of an interim title being that they stake the claim to the next title shot when the champion returns. Although Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones never got along, it appears that Sonnen is taking the side of his former rival.
Chael Sonnen Sounds Off
Chael Sonnen provided a potential solution to the social media kerfuffle between the two fighters, and it is one that Aspinall isn’t going to like. The feud between 36-year-old Jones and 30-year-old Aspinall has pulled the heavyweight division to a screeching halt. Sonnen thinks he can stop it, because Jones won’t do it himself.
“Jon does not enjoy that side of [MMA], he doesn’t understand it,” Sonnen said on the You’re Welcome podcast. “He thinks the most money, the most accolades should go to whoever can beat up the most people. So Jon could end it. He could end something that he doesn’t want to keep continuing by saying one word, which is yes. But you want to know something? Jon could also end this by saying one word, which is no. ‘No, I’m planning to do one more. My plans have not changed for you. I plan to fight Stipe Miocic, who’s great. Stipe might be the one to bring me down. We’ll find out that night, but he might not. That’d be another notch and it will be enough. My plans don’t involve you.’ He could do that,” Sonnen said.
For Sonnen’s plan to work, though, that fight would have to be the last of Jones’ career. Jones has expressed some desire to retire, but is open to another fight happening. Chael Sonnen explained how other fighters have done it, namely his media colleague Daniel Cormier.
“Daniel Cormier dismissed effectively Curtis Blaydes. I was there the night that he did it, he did it on the ESPN desk. He’d just got done fighting, Curtis had called him out and Daniel was a gentleman. He said, ‘Hey, that guy’s good. He’s got reach, his striking’s improved, a national champion wrestler, he’s younger, he’s got a great career in front of him. But he and I will never share the octagon.’ And Daniel didn’t say it’s because it’s not a competitive fight. He didn’t say he was better than him. He didn’t even say he could beat him. He said, ‘I’m a champion, I get [pay-per-view] points. I fight people that have big names. You don’t.’
“He leveled with him straight up,” Sonnen continued on. “Never got into who’s better, whose legacy, who should remembered more. Daniel told the actual truth, which, ‘I can’t make any money fighting you. You’re a dangerous fight that doesn’t bring money. Winning fights doesn’t get you to me, just so you know. I know they’ve told you that, but it’s not true. I know the magazines tell you that getting a high ranking brings you to me — I’m letting you know now, it doesn’t. Win over the crowd that’s willing to stop what they’re doing, part with their money and time to watch you, and that’s how you get to me. And you didn’t do that.’
“It was so effective, it was never discussed again. Curtis Blaydes versus Daniel Cormier, when Daniel was champion, was never discussed again. So Jon Jones could come out and say, ‘You’re young and you’re good and I’m not looking for that. No.’ Or he could say, ‘You suck. No,’ but it would still be a definitive and he could end this. Or he could say, ‘Yes. Let’s stick with the plan. I have Stipe first and then I will come see you,'” Sonnen finished.
Aspinall and Jones have continued to go back and forth on social media, as Aspinall has pitched a title fight endlessly. Jones has made it clear in his refusal to deviate from his plan, but Sonnen thinks he has handled it poorly.
“One thing about it is, Jon hasn’t said yes and he hasn’t said no. He’s let it be very clear that this irritates him,” Sonnen said.
In typical Chael Sonnen fashion, he had to throw in a few shots at Jones’ expense.
“It’s kind of like, why does he not get himself a driver? Why would he not part [with] some money? If you’re giving a stripper $10,000 that you’re never going to see again, why would you not hire a writer for $10,000? He’ll work, he’ll be there the whole year. That’s about what it would cost for somebody to manage your Twitter page — about $10,000 for the whole year for a real top guy, a WWE guy, a guy who has worked in Hollywood. A real top professional writer, that’s about what it would cost. And you know Jon doesn’t have a driver, that’s how he’s got DUIs, and you know he doesn’t have a writer, that’s why he’s got typos.”
If Sonnen is to be believed, Jones could turn this all around himself. It remains to be seen what Aspinall’s next move is, but the UFC will want him active more often than not. For Jones, we are likely to see him at the end of the year if things go to plan.
The matchup between Aspinall and Jones would be a change between the old guard and the new. The UFC may move in a new direction, and this could be just the start. Chael Sonnen doesn’t think so, though.
Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images