Tuesday the UFC announced possibly the biggest news in recent Ultimate Fighter history, besides the move to FX, when it was announced Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen would be the next coaches of The Ultimate Fighter. The decision was met with anger and excitement from fans, but none the less this is a massive decision from the UFC.
The argument against is based on the fact that Chael Sonnen is coming off a loss to Anderson Silva at middleweight. He hasn’t fought at light heavyweight since he lost to Renato Sobral at UFC 55 and with so many fighters that seem ahead of Sonnen for a title shot (see Machida, Lyoto and Henderson, Dan) it’s a bit of a shock that he earns the call.
But let’s remember the UFC gives fans the fights they want to see and since Sonnen started his trash talking towards Jones the fight has been getting closer to reality. It was first a possibility at UFC 151 after Henderson was forced out with an injury, but Jones turned down the opportunity claiming Sonnen had not earned the shot.
Before just screaming that he hasn’t earned the shot let’s remember what he did at middleweight. He’s the only man that came remotely close to beating Anderson Silva and, if not for a questionable spinning elbow, we can’t know how the second fight goes. Even with those two losses Sonnen is the perennial No. 1 contender at middleweight.
Fans may argue that giving Sonnen the fight because he talked his way to the top makes the UFC look like WWE, but it’s not as if Sonnen hasn’t been successful. It’s not just fans either, Dan Henderson was noticeably upset on Twitter after the Ultimate Fighter announcement.
Let’s make one thing clear though. Sonnen is a top fighter in the UFC, the promotion is established enough to where this fight won’t hurt the organization. We’ve seen questionable title fights before (Silva-Maia anyone?) and the sport wasn’t hurt. The next season of TUF will be interesting and fans will enjoy it. Fox will be moving the Ultimate Fighter off Friday’s so that will help also and, who knows, maybe Sonnen can pull the upset.