The biggest news heading into UFC 153 wasn’t the Silva/Bonnar fight, it was actually that Jon Jones had finally seemed to come around to the idea of fighting Chael Sonnen as he announced via twitter.
“The more I realize how bad the fans want to see me fight Sonnen the more I am beginning to disregard whether he deserves it or not,” Jones recently tweeted. “A part of me wants to do it for the fans. The other part of me feels as if it delegitimizes the importance of (the) championship.”
Sonnen was scheduled to face Forrest Griffin at the end of the year, but instead has been signed on with Jon Jones to coach the Ultimate Fighter season 17. Due to his coaching duties, Sonnen no longer will fight Forrest Griffin at UFC 155 in December.
Sonnen is also expected to face the champion at the end of the series in a title fight. Everyone who thought that top prospects like Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira, or even the winner of Lyoto Machida versus Dan Henderson was going to get the next shot at Jones was wrong.
“TUF 17” filming begins Oct. 29, and the show then debuts on FX in January. The 17th edition of the UFC’s long-running reality series is expected to feature middleweight and light-heavyweight fighters. Open tryouts for the tournament-based competition and show recently drew more than 120 UFC hopefuls.
Both fighters have been going at it verbally since the cancellation of UFC 151. The tension between Jones and Sonnen began in late August when Dan Henderson was forced out of a scheduled fight with the champion. Sonnen attempted to step in on short notice to save the event, but Jones refused to fight the former middleweight contender with only one week to prepare.
UFC President Dana White was forced to cancel UFC 151 due to the absence of a PPV-worthy main event. Jones explained that he wasn’t fully comfortable risking the belt against the 35-year-old skilled wrestler with a relentless attacking style that nearly allowed him to upset middleweight champion Anderson Silva in 2010.
Jones used a lot of excused before he ended up fighting and finishing Vitor Belfort at UFC 152. Afterwards Jones explained he would’ve fought Sonnen at UFC 152 with better preparation time, but Sonnen denied that he was ever offered that fight.
Since then, the former middleweight contender has moved up weight-classes to eventually earn a title shot against Jones. Sonnen will bring great attitude and a huge fan base to the show whether it’s positive or negative. Hate him or love him, everyone watches when Sonnen is talking. He has one of the best training teams and you can bet any fighter(s) on his team will be stars in the future. This is great news for The Ultimate Fighter, as ratings hit a new low with last week’s episode. Carwin is too calm and Nelson is a joke. At least with Jones and Sonnen as coaches, we know we will get a good show with great ratings, and an awesome fight at the end of the show.
The big question is how much does Sonnen really deserve all of this? A man who hasn’t even fought at 205 gets the coaching job and an immediate title shot after the show? Either way, Dana White and company knows this might be the last time they can squeeze any juice from the Sonnen tree. If he can beat Jones, they can do so much with him, but if he loses, at least they will have got everything rating wise that they could out of Sonnen.