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Chael Sonnen contemplating retirement after failed title bid at UFC 159

Sonnen on Jon Jones: “He’s a lot better than I thought he was”

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Gregory Payan / AP Photo

A defeated Chael Sonnen is seen after losing to champion Jon Jones in their UFC 159 light heavyweight title bout in Newark, N.J., Saturday, April 27, 2013. Jones retained his title via first-round TKO.

UFC 159

Champion Jon Jones, top, lands an elbow against Chael Sonnen during their UFC 159 light heavyweight title bout in Newark, N.J., Saturday, April 27, 2013. Jones retained his title via first-round TKO. Launch slideshow »

As Jon Jones savored the moment during his walkout at UFC 159 and took his time before entering the octagon, Chael Sonnen grew restless.

Sonnen waved his hand and yelled at the champion.

“Come on,” Sonnen said over the roar of blaring speakers and adoring fans. “Get over here. Let’s fight.”

Sonnen proceeded to get a refresher on what was likely one of the first lessons he learned in life: to be careful what he wished for. Jones came over, all right, and did a lot more than simply conquer.

The challenger admitted Jones embarrassed him with his performance at the Prudential Center. Despite a badly broken toe, Jones finished Sonnen with unrelenting ground-and-pound strikes 4:33 into the first round.

That was after Jones took down Sonnen three times without much of a struggle.

“I don’t think I’ve been taken down three times in my career,” Sonnen said. “He took me down three times in one round.”

The loss left Sonnen uncharacteristically dejected and contemplating retirement. While the 36-year-old doesn’t plan to reach a final decision on his future for a while, he said he was only in the UFC to chase a championship.

And Sonnen thinks that’s no longer possible after falling to 0-3 in title shots with the loss to Jones.

“I don’t know who else I’m supposed to beat around here,” Sonnen said. “It’s tough. I’ve had a lot of fights not go my way, but I’ve only been beat up twice, and that was No. 2. And he beat me at my own game.”

Sonnen muttered that final thought repeatedly after the fight. If all else failed, Sonnen was supposed to be able to fall back on his wrestling ability.

Experts and fans widely considered the veteran middleweight to have the best takedown and takedown defense in all of mixed martial arts. Jones knew that, too, and he took it as a challenge.

“Chael has this thing where he gets people dreaming and having nightmares about that double-leg,” Jones said. “What I had to do was be comfortable with the fact that I could possibly be taken down. Once I got over that, I stopped to breathe and played the game the way I wanted to play the game. I was the wrestler. I was the dominant one, and it was a good feeling.”

Sonnen might find it hard to walk away from mixed martial arts because he’s dedicated his life to competing. He grew up wrestling in tournaments almost every weekend before further pursuing the sport at the University of Oregon and later at the Olympic level.

He started his professional fighting career 16 years ago, long before the sport garnered any type of mainstream acceptance.

“I like to fight, but I love this business, and there are so many opportunities that are out there that weren’t here a few years ago,” Sonnen said. “And broadcasting is one of them.”

Sonnen is a staple on virtually all of the Fox-produced UFC content. UFC President Dana White said last week that the network television channel wanted to use Sonnen in an expanded role, so it’s not like he’d enter retirement with nothing to occupy his energy.

Someday, he might find himself breaking down a super fight between Jones and old rival Anderson Silva. Sonnen gave a sneak peek on his analysis for that one.

“I whipped (Silva) for 30 minutes. He whipped me for less than 30 seconds,” Sonnen said. “I whipped Jon for zero seconds and he whipped me the entire fight. It’s just tough. If you’re asking me for my opinion, Jon is better.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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