Why Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen's Sudden Friendship Kills Interest in TUF 17

McKinley NobleCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2012

Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen doesn't feel like a real grudge match anymore. Just business.
Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen doesn't feel like a real grudge match anymore. Just business.

When listening to MMA community about The Ultimate Fighter, the common line of thought is that this upcoming season will be one of the show's best yet.

But, frankly, it doesn't seem quite so interesting anymore.

In fact, the heated buzz around the whole Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen angle has recently had a ton of cold water thrown over it.

Before the season was even announced, Jones and Sonnen were figuratively at each other's throats. Starting with Sonnen picking a fight over Twitter, he and the light heavyweight champion had been trading some incredibly fierce trash-talk that had the MMA world buzzing.

So what happened?

Quite simply, the UFC dropped the ball.

During an October 30th Metro PCS fan chat, UFC president Dana White had Jon Jones on live steaming video answering fan questions, a pretty routine treat for hardcore fans.

Then, Chael Sonnen took a seat next to Jones—and they got friendly.

Not just friendly, like two co-workers having a fireside chat. It was more "buddy-buddy", as if the two were close friends or college roommates.

Sitting side-by-side, Jones and Sonnen playfully traded barbs during the interview, even mock-choking and striking each other while mugging for the camera.

Even worse, Jones (once again) showed why he's a failing student of Fight Promotion 101, feeding the media a quotable quip that he "doesn't hate" Sonnen anymore.

Thankfully, Sonnen wasn't quite as candid, but still broke the fourth wall by stating that Jones was "a pretty good guy."

Well, thanks, guys.

Even if you don't have anything personal against each other anymore (and Sonnen's a charmer, so this author doesn't blame the malleable Jones), you've ruined a major aspect of the show for several fans.

Some of the most successful seasons of TUF happen when the coaches hate each other, at least on camera. It worked for Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson, Georges St-Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck, Quinton Jackson vs. Rashad Evans and especially Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber.

Now why should I bother paying attention when Jones tells MMA Junkie that Sonnen "doesn't deserve" a shot at his UFC light heavyweight belt? Even if it is true, this author no longer believes there is much animosity behind that statement.

Maybe this is only something that bothers hardcore fans, but a hardcore MMA fan is exactly the kind of person that even chooses to watch TUF in the first place.

Dana White never should have let these two near each other on camera. Not this early at least.

Good for Jones and Sonnen on kissing and making up. They've shown that they're both mature adults, (mostly) burying the proverbial hatchet—and much of TUF 17's hype along with it.

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.