Jones and Chael Sonnen
will coach opposite each other on Season 17 of “The Ultimate
Fighter” before squaring off for the UFC light heavyweight title on
April 27, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
UFC President Dana White confirmed the development with the
publication on Tuesday.
“This should be a good one,” White stated in the report. “Jon has
accepted the fight. He knows the fans want to see that fight.”
Shooting for “TUF 17” will reportedly begin Oct. 29 in Las Vegas,
with a January premiere featuring middleweight contestants. The
show’s April finale is expected to take place at the Hard Rock
Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and air on FX, though Jones’ bout
with Sonnen will likely serve as a separate pay-per-view headliner
at a to-be-announced location.
The April fight date was necessary so that Jones will have time to
rehab his injured arm, White said. “Bones” recently had his elbow
stretched courtesy of a first-round armbar attempt from Vitor
Belfort at UFC 152. Jones escaped the hold and earned a
fourth-round submission, but his arm was damaged nonetheless.
The Sept. 22 matchup was booked after the cancellation of UFC 151,
which was supposed to see Jones defend his title against Dan
Henderson before the veteran withdrew due to injury. Sonnen
offered to step up on short notice to fight Jones, but the champion
turned the fight down, citing a lack of time to prepare for a new
opponent. Jones was instead re-booked for UFC 152 three weeks later
Machida, but that pairing would also not come to fruition, as
“The Dragon” would not accept a rematch with Jones without time for
a full training camp.
A former two-time UFC middleweight title contender, Sonnen was
expected to return to the light heavyweight division on Dec. 29
Griffin prior to today’s announcement. According to L.A. Times
reporter Lance Pugmire, that bout will no longer take place. The
35-year-old last competed in a July 7 rematch with 185-pound
Silva, who knocked the Oregonian out in the second round at UFC