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Chael Sonnen calls Jones vs. Gustafsson 'best fight in history,' fires back at Wanderlei Silva

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Chael Sonnen was in-studio for UFC 165's legendary main event, and count him among those who initially believed Alexander Gustafsson dethroned UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

"I had Gustafsson, but I do not dispute the decision," Sonnen said on Monday's 200th episode of The MMA Hour.

"It was very close. It could've gone either way. Perhaps if I re-watched it, I'd have a different answer. But when the fight was over, I did think we were going to hear, ‘And new UFC champion.'"

Jones entered the fight an overwhelming favorite, but early on, as Gustafsson's size proved to be a major equalizer and the lanky Swede became the first man to take down Jones, it became clear to Sonnen that something special was taking place.

"I did think we were witnessing history. And I did think that Jon would shut down and wilt, and he didn't at all," Sonnen said. "Do I respect him even more now? Yes.

"Those elbows and the spinning elbows, and the step-in and the lead elbows that Jon landed, you can't practice those. Jon can hit mitts and he can throw those at the air, but the only time you can actually throw those at a target is in a fight. If you do that stuff in practice you won't have any partners. You'll put ‘em out. So for Jon to be that spot-on, that accurate while his eye is bleeding, while he's physically exhausted, while he's stressed and worried about losing his championship, and to still keep finding that target, was really quite remarkable from an athletic standpoint."

Jones ultimately eked out a unanimous decision victory, defending his belt by a pair of 48-47 scores, along with a lone 49-46 score. On Monday, Ontario's athletic commission released the full scorecards. Judge Richard Bertrand gave Gustafsson rounds one and three, judge Doug Crosby gave Gustafsson rounds one and two, and the controversial dissenter, judge Chris Lee, gave Jones rounds two through five.

Nonetheless, the fight's merits as an instant classic cannot be disputed. Both men displayed tremendous heart throughout a grueling 25-minutes war of attrition, leading Sonnen to call it the greatest fight he's ever seen.

"The best fight in history," Sonnen declared. "There's some guys that were saying, ‘This is one of the best fights in the history of the light heavyweight division.' Eh, you don't need to narrow it down that far. That's the best fight in the light heavyweight division history, I don't think there's any argument there. And you know, we do have short terms memories.

"Next week we see another great fight and we declare it the greatest fight in history. Greatness is something that we have to be reminded of very often as human beings. But with all that said, yes, that's my vote, that's the fight, best of all-time."

As Jones and Gustafsson are both just 26 years old, it seems the pair are destined to become rivals, Gustafsson the potential Larry Bird to Jones' Magic Johnson.

Sonnen, meanwhile, has his own rivalry to worry about, though his has yet to play out within the eight-sided cage.

Following his quick victory over Shogun Rua, Sonnen called out former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva. The two have a history at odds, and Silva subsequently released a bizarre, threat-laced response video which garnered over million views.

Yet once again, the grudge match never came to fruition.

"Wanderlei's version is, ‘I'd really love to do it, but the UFC just hasn't offered it to me.' But anyone who believes the UFC hasn't offered tried to put on this colossal mega-fight between two guys that genuinely disdain each other is more than silly. It's a level of ridiculousness," Sonnen said.

"Am I picking on him? Yeah, I'm picking on him. This dates way back to when he was fighting in Japan. I'm the first guy to ever point out the fact that those were fake, that he wasn't winning fights in Japan. That he didn't go 22-0. These were set-up matches, and it pissed him and ‘Cro Cop' off. But as soon as I said it, other guys started coming out and going, ‘Oh, Chael's right.' From Gary Goodridge to Mark Coleman, to Don Frye coming out, ‘Yeah, we were in the back and yeah, these were set-up.' He's upset about that, but it doesn't change the reality of what happened."

Sonnen eventually moved on, accepting a spot to fight on UFC 167's co-main event opposite Rashad Evans, a friend and sometimes co-host on UFC programming. However he made it clear, the match-up wasn't his preference.

"We're in the fight business for a reason -- to fight," Sonnen said. "There's people out there I don't like. But at the same time, if those people are preferring to do their fights over subtitled videos, and the rest of us prefer to do our fights in the Octagon, we've got to operate within that hierarchy. There's not a lot we can do."