Several weeks ago, UFC President Dana White suggested that Sonnen, coming off a decisive loss to Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, would have to beat a few top-ranked light heavyweight names to earn a shot at Light Heavyweight Champ Jon Jones.
Aware of Chael’s mastery of self-promotion and the commercially-attractive controversy stemming from UFC 151, few believed the journey would be so arduous. Their suspicions were confirmed Tuesday.
The LA Times reported Tuesday that Sonnen and Jones will coach opposing teams on the upcoming seventeenth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” before squaring off in a title bout this April. With respect to that planned bout, Sonnen will no longer be fighting Forrest Griffin in December.
As a result, Sonnen will earn a crack at what has historically been UFC’s most marquee title without winning a single fight in the weight class.
Vitor Belfort, Jones’ last opponent, had not won in the class during his most recent UFC tenure, but he had previously held a UFC title at 205. He, unlike Sonnen, was also not coming off a loss in his most recent fight.
In addition to creating a marketing title bout for Jones, the “TUF” coaching setup also gives UFC one of its best prayers of reviving interest in the series. Save for a blip due to lead-in support from a “Fight Night” card, the most recent season of “TUF” has consistently delivered record-low ratings since premiering last month.