The next edition of the flailing show, The Ultimate Fighter, will soon be marketed to us in a way the UFC has never marketed before.
While UFC President Dana White can continue to push the company language that TUF is going to continue to grow and do well, he must know that this next show featuring Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen will be a very key symbol as to whether or not the show can regain some of its shine that has dulled out over the past few years.
Sonnen and Jones are going to be able to sell this show to the fans on their own better than any UFC marketing director could. The candid comments that come from each of them is what will bring in the initial surge in viewers, compared to what the ratings have been for the last several editions.
There is going to be the crowd who tunes in for Sonnen's over-the top-theatrics.
There will, however, be a lot of fans who are curious to see if they can be drawn back into Team Jones.
Jones, the surging superstar and icon of the UFC, saw his reputation take a nosedive in 2012 for reasons that don't need to be re-hashed for the umpteenth time. TUF will allow him to become reconnected with his fans who may have left his corner over the last 12 months.
They will see a man who is an excellent coach, and one who displays a ton of respect for those in and around the Octagon.
Whether or not that's who he really is, I don't know—only he can answer that—but I'm certain that's the way ZUFFA will make sure the show is edited.
Jones needs to come out of TUF with a restored reputation. Not only are fans just now getting over the whole UFC 151 debacle, but there needs to be a sense of stability within the UFC, which has taken a hit with all the injuries and out-of-the-Octagon issues we've seen in 2012.
There's no doubt in my mind that come time for the April fight between Sonnen and Jones, the amount of fans Jones earned from the show will be evident. I expect both fighters to show a tireless work ethic and a real interest in the success of the guys on their team.
Unfortunately, for Sonnen, I believe there will be an agenda to edit the show in a way that makes Sonnen look like the villain.
We've all seen the effects of video editing. Anybody can be made to look like the bad guy in any situation with a few hours of video magic.
Sonnen is going to lose his fight to Jones and go on to do very well in the broadcast booth. Jones is the future of the UFC, and the company needs to do everything possible to make sure he's cast in a positive light from this point forward.
Call it a conspiracy theory, call it a lie, but that's just how I see this next season of TUF playing out.
Joe Chacon is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and a staff writer for Operation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeChacon.
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