NEWARK, N.J. – Just 25 months ago, Jon Jones became the youngest champion in UFC history when he routed Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in the Prudential Center to claim the light heavyweight title.
Jones has gone on to unprecedented heights since and, on Saturday, put his name into the record books with a dominating victory over Chael Sonnen. It was his fifth consecutive successful title defense, tying Tito Ortiz's record by obliterating Sonnen and putting to rest the foolish notion he was somehow afraid when he declined to fight him on eight days notice at UFC 151.
Jones took Sonnen down late in the first round and was pounding on him with punches and elbows when referee Keith Peterson stopped the fight at 4:33.
[Related: Eye poke ends Bisping vs. Belcher]
Sonnen came out hard, but he was never able to mount an offense. Jones took him down three times, and the last time led to the finish. Sonnen briefly argued the stoppage, but he was taking a lot of abuse.
The feud came to an end with the one-sided defeat.
"Chael Sonnen is an awesome opponent," Jones said.
Jones' left big toe was somehow injured late in the fight and grotesquely deformed and swollen. It was unclear how it occurred, and Jones did not realize it immediately.
Sonnen credited Jones with a good fight and didn't complain.
"He's an excellent fighter, and I have no problem with the decision," Sonnen said. " … I was very surprised at his power and size. I'm disappointed. … Jon's the man."
Sonnen said he's going to consider retirement.
In the primary undercard, Michael Bisping got a critical victory, scoring a unanimous technical decision over Alan Belcher, a bout that ended early when Bisping inadvertently poked Belcher in the right eye with his left thumb.
Bisping didn't put a lot of pressure on Belcher in the first, circling and seeming to gauge the distance.
But in the final two rounds, Bisping's clear advantage in the standup showed. He mixed his punches up and was landing his straight right consistently.
He was wearing Belcher down after landing it enough that Belcher seemed unwilling to engage.
Bisping fired a punch at Belcher in the final minute and before the eye poke occured. Belcher went down in obvious pain and took his mouthpiece out.
The eye was closed and, after doctors briefly examined him, the bout was stopped. It went to the scorecards since the poke was inadvertent, and Bisping won by scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28.
Roy Nelson had a highlight-reel knockout that has him slowly moving him into heavyweight title contention. Nelson caught Cheick Kongo with a massive overhand right that landed on the cheek.
Kongo went down and was clearly out, as referee Kevin Mulhall jumped in to stop it quickly at 2:03 of the first.
Nelson has now won three in a row and hopes to meet the winner of the title fight between champion Cain Velasquez and Antonio "Big Foot" Silva in his next bout.
UFC broadcaster Joe Rogan said to Nelson in the cage, "You can't teach that power." Nelson smiled and said, "No, you can't."
He leapt to the top of the cage in exultation after the fight was stopped. He hopes it leads to much bigger things.
"All I do is, they set them up and I knock them down," Nelson said. "I want that gold. UFC 160, whoever wins, that [is who] I want."
Nelson has beaten Dave Herman, Matt Mitrione and Kongo in succession and has reeled off four wins in his last five.
After Kongo went down, Nelson threw one punch before holding back, realizing Kongo was out.
"I knew when I hit him that he was out, but he also recovers very fast, as we saw in the Pat Barry fight," Nelson said. "I went in and hit him again then looked to the ref to let him know I was prepared to keep going, if necessary. I changed up my camp a little bit this time, surrounded myself with guys who really have my best interests in mind.
"I think that made a big difference tonight. I'm ready for the title if that's what's next for me. I know I can give Cain fits and if it's Big Foot, then I'm ready for that too.”
Nelson was able to back up his pre-fight words with a big right hand. Sonnen, though, wasn't the only fighter who talked a lot of trash prior to his UFC 159 bout and came up short. Vinny Magalhaes made all sorts of threats toward Phil Davis, but was totally unable to mount any offense before getting drubbed.
Davis won a unanimous decision, using his striking to keep Maghalaes at bay. A submission expert, Maghalaes made few efforts to get the fight to the ground, and those that he did were half-hearted.
It was a poor effort in any event, but particularly for a guy who talked as much as he did.
Judges had it 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Davis.
Pat Healy and Jim Miller opened the pay-per-view portion of the card with a fun back-and-forth fight, but Healy overwhelmed Miller in the second half of the fight and finished it with a rear naked choke at 4:02 of the third.
Healy took a lot of punishment from Miller in a good first round and his right eye was swollen badly when he returned to his corner. But Healy kept swarming Miller and finally just started winning the battles for position.
He got Miller's back and choked him out with the rear naked choke along the cage.
"The one thing you can never question is my heart," Healy said. "As long as I can walk, I'm going to keep coming."
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