There isn't a way that I know of to change this - Xhevair "Jev" Maskuli may know of an obscure system property (v9 on-prem) that could work. I know it has been discussed in the past, but Jev is also the guy would know if this is on a roadmap.
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Good question. Currently the best way to see the latest responses on content first would be in streams (Activity Stream, a custom stream or your inbox). The full content page doesn't currently have a filter or sort on it's replies.
The focus for Jive as a collaborative Intranet has generally been around the context of the conversation and that can easily be lost without threading or if replies are sorted by most recent.
The focus of seeing replies to content based on recency or popularity is more a focus for Social media platforms that encourage high viewership/social engagement (likes and shares) and less on collaboration. (IMHO)
That being said, I can appreciate the need to quickly see the latest on a thread you follow or if others have different preferences of viewing content replies. I don't believe it's currently on the roadmap, but I will bring it up.