Ugh, you guys, I had the worst dream last night. I was at home, but it was actually the house I grew up in, you know? I was watching TV, and suddenly all the lights went out. Dana White walked in through the back door. He told me — and here’s the freaky part — that Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen would be coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, and they’d actually be fighting for the light-heavyweight belt in April. I was like, “Why? Why are you doing this?” And he said, “Because I fucking hate you.” And when he said that, I realized it wasn’t Dana White, it was my own father. Then, my teeth started cracking and falling out one by one, and-OH MY GOD NO! AHHHHHHHH! THIS CAN’T HAPPEN! THIS CAN’T HAPPEN! [scene]
Look, we’re not alone in our utter distaste for this booking. Elsewhere on the Internet, pundits have called Jones vs. Sonnen (vs. TUF) a thinly-veiled money grab that reeks of desperation and sets a horrible precedent. But this matchup is now our reality, and we have to deal with reality on reality’s terms. Here’s a sample of the fallout and news updates that yesterday’s bombshell kicked up:
- Tweet of the Day, from Dan Henderson: “I guess I should just quit training to win fights and to be exciting for the fans and just go to shit talking school. @danawhite”. Dan and Chael might be bros from way back, but that clearly doesn’t make this news any easier for Hendo to swallow. It’s insulting, really. Henderson is still the most rightful challenger to Jones’s belt, but an ill-timed injury has apparently put him on the UFC’s “pay no mind” list. Don’t make us say it.
- More sour grapes: Of course, Sonnen’s new opportunity now leaves Forrest Griffin without an opponent; FoGriff was originally supposed to meet Sonnen at UFC 155 in December. As you can imagine, Griffin doesn’t seem too thrilled about this latest development either, telling Ariel Helwani, “I’m not mad at him. Why fight your way to the top when you can talk your way to the top? I’m actually happy I’m not fighting him anymore, because watching his fights was boring and tedious.” The hot new rumor is that Griffin could possibly face the recently-wrecked Stephan Bonnar instead. Fine, whatever.
- And now, the Chael Sonnen reaction video you’ve all been waiting for/dreading…
“This show has some tremendous young talent on it. I will be taking 50 percent of that talent and teaching them how to fight. The other half is going to be taught how to be selfish, entitled brats by Jones. The good news is that when it is all over, I’m sure Coach Jones will throw a hell of an afterparty…I did everything I could to warn this guy. [I told him] ‘Hey Jon, I’m coming to the division which puts you on notice to pack your bags and get put of there.’ He was talking about going to heavyweight and he should have done it. The bottom line is, he waited too long and now the man has arrived…I got the biggest arm, I got the greatest charm, and I do the most harm. I’m better than Jon Jones, I’m better than Sean Combs, and I’m even better than John Holmes.”
- The injury angle: So why is Jon Jones — a guy who was previously known for his fight frequency — now content to be sidelined until April 27th in order to play the straight man on a flailing reality show? Blame Vitor Belfort’s “nearacle” armbar, which caused a strained elbow ligament in Jones’s right arm that will require him to undergo physical therapy to rehab it. In other words, Jones wasn’t going to jump directly back in the cage anyway. When you consider that fact, the decision begins to make a lot more sense from the champ’s perspective: Keep yourself in the public’s eye through TUF, then take a squash match against a natural middleweight as your post-injury tune-up fight.
- Discussion topic #1: Will Jones and Sonnen both make it to their April 27th fight date intact, or will one be struck down by the TUF Coaches Curse?
- Discussion topic #2: “Lesnar couldn’t move the needle for TUF on Spike and some of you think Sonnen will do it on FX. Some of you don’t get reality.”