Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen on TUF 17 Was the Right Call

McKinley NobleCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2012

Like it or not, UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen is getting a shot at light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Like it or not, UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen is getting a shot at light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen is a match that shouldn't be happening.

Sonnen is coming off a one-sided loss to Anderson Silva; his second failed bid at the middleweight title. He also hasn't fought at light heavyweight in the UFC since a submission loss to Renato Sobral in 2005 at UFC 55.

He hasn't done anything at 205 pounds to earn a title shot at Jones, unless you count his scathing, biting trash talk over Twitter.

And yet, according to the LA Times, Chael's getting his wish:

UFC President Dana White told The Times on Tuesday that Jones and Sonnen have been assigned as opposing coaches in the third installment of The Ultimate Fighter on FX, creating some extensive pre-fight hype for their April 27 pay-per-view title match at a site to be determined.

The Ultimate Fighter with Jones and Sonnen is set to begin shooting on Oct. 29 in Las Vegas, with a debut in early January as young middleweights participate in a tournament that leads up to an April "TUF" finale at the Vegas Hard Rock Hotel, where the winner will receive a multi-fight UFC contract.

No matter how you spin it, it's true sign of desperation for the UFC and FX.

It's short-sighted matchmaking in an attempt to save a failing show, and make some easy PPV money by cannibalising one of the UFC's biggest stars.

It's irresponsible, exploitative and cheap.

But it's still the right match to make. It can save The Ultimate Fighter, give Jones time to rest his injured arm and catapult "Bones" to the next level of stardom.

Let's be realistic here—Jon Jones has essentially cleaned out the light heavyweight division. If you look at it critically, there's just no one left on Jones' level.

He'll be an overwhelming favorite over the winner of Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida, and no prospects in his weight class are anywhere near ready to challenge for the title. Not Phil Davis, not Alexander Gustafsson, and not even grizzled veteran Glover Teixeira.

Moreover, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) is dying.

Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin are performing dismally in TV ratings, with the current TUF season drawing record-low viewers in its Friday night death slot. Since UFC president Dana White is determined to drag the show through the trenches, he needs to bet everything on the next season.

If TUF is going to be saved, Jones vs. Sonnen is the best bet for the UFC and FX.

Even though it's unfair that Sonnen gets to skip his UFC 155 fight with Forrest Griffin, it's not like anyone else at 205 pounds deserves a title shot more than he does. Sonnen is one of the UFC's biggest stars, and in the lead-up to his title fight with Jones, he'll be ruthlessly prodding, taunting and bashing Jones for weeks on end.

Plus, this is something that can either make or break Jones as a star.

He's reviled by much of the target audience for TUF—and if ratings don't improve with him as a coach, that's a crippling blow to him and the UFC.

That's good television, no matter how you slice it, and it'll be interesting to see how Jones reacts to the utter audacity of another middleweight title contender being gifted a title shot.

[McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist and FightFans Radio writer. His work has appeared in GamePro, Macworld and PC World. Talk with him on Twitter.]