Nobody can accuse Jon Jones from running Chael Sonnen any longer. The UFC light heavyweight champion will not only fight Sonnen in 2013 but will coach against him on The Ultimate Fighter season 17.
“This should be a good one,” said White. “Jon has accepted the fight. He knows the fans want to see that fight.”
I can’t say I am surprised. Jon Jones recently gave an interview where he said he was interested in coaching on The Ultimate Fighter and also recently said that he’d fight Chael if that’s what the fans wanted. I actually sent out a tweet on Monday predicting this exact scenario including the TUF gig.
[adinserter name=”366 right”]Dana White broke the news to the LA Times on Tuesday in a story that has a lot of MMA fans and media scratching their heads. Sonnen will go from getting thrashed by Anderson Silva in the second round to an immediate championship fight in his light heavyweight debut (well return after a lengthy absence) As entertaining as this sounds, it makes even less sense than giving Vitor Belfort a title shot. The fight will go down on April 27.
The fight comes at a very odd time for both the champion and challenger. Sonnen signed to fight Forrest Griffin in December while Jones was expected to fight either Lyoto Machida or Dan Henderson. My hunch is that this fight has a lot more to do with the abysmal The Ultimate Fighter ratings this season as opposed to championship integrity.
The big losers here are Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson. Henderson was scheduled to fight Jones at UFC 151 but had to pull out due to injury. Machida was told he was getting the next title shot after he dominated Ryan Bader on Fox. Machida declined a recent opportunity to fight Bones at UFC 152. My hunch and nobody will say it is that the UFC are still real upset with Henderson for canceling with little notice and Machida for turning down the shot with little notice.
What makes this even more complicated is that White recently announced that the upcoming UFC on Fox fight between Mauricio Shogun Rua and Alexander Gustafsson could determine a top contender. That fight is in December so that would mean that the winner would have to sit out at minimum 7-8 months for his title shot. That also means is that the earliest Machida or Henderson have at even sniffing a title shot is next fall.
There are both reasons to get excited and reasons to cry foul over the latest news. Chael Sonnen has simply talked himself into a title shot here. He may be entertaining to read on Twitter but the fact is that he just got beat by Silva and has never even fought in the division. This is hardly what I would call challenging Jon Jones. It is also another case of the UFC trying to shine up a mismatch which smart fans at the end of the day will see through and will probably take a pass.
I think it is safe to say that the UFC is more interested in business than sport. That is fine and I can’t disagree with it, but don’t claim otherwise. This fight is being made purely for business reasons. There is reason that title fights don’t sell on UFC pay per views like they used to. I love great fight-hype and Chael may be the best, but this really sets the UFC back as far as I am concerned quite a bit when it comes to sports legitimacy. At some point you have to question whether the UFC should even have titles or just go back to the Super Fight titles like the old days.
[adinserter name=”366 left”]The plus of course is that this will generate tremendous interest into The Ultimate Fighter. TUF is a dying franchise, drawing just over 600,000 viewers this past week. There is certainly no guarantee that coaches will make a difference as Brock Lesnar did not have nearly the impact on TUF as some, including myself speculated he’d have. However, I have to think that Chael will play the game (unlike Brock) and deliver such compelling television week to week that fans who stopped watching awhile back will reconnect with the show.
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