Chael Sonnen vs. Jon Jones is expected to build up as one of the hottest grudge matches in the UFC, but fans won't see much of the heat during The Ultimate Fighter.
That's the word coming out of the most recent edition of the Wrestling Observer (via MMA Underground), as industry insider Dave Meltzer reports that the two coaches spend far more camera time training with their respective teams than trash-talking each other:
This is what I’ve heard about the show from multiple sources. The Jones vs. Sonnen stuff never heats up to the level near what one would expect. Sonnen comes across as being there to help coach his charges as opposed to being there to play pro wrestler and hype up a fight and the belief is he comes across great. But those expecting a Jackson vs. Evans, GSP vs. Koscheck, Shamrock vs. Ortiz or even a Bisping vs. Miller like dynamic with the coaches will be disappointed.
That kind of action would be a vast step up in quality from the previous season starring heavyweights Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin, as many of the fighters from Season 16 were not extended invitations to fight in the TUF 16 finale card last year. MMA Underground writes:
The fights are apparently great, and this comes from a number of people, and not just Dana White’s hyping of the show. White has talked about one guy on the show that everyone is afraid of. There is apparently one guy who will be the star of the season and one person told me that this person will come right out of the show and be an instant star. Others didn’t go quite that far in saying instant star, and the guy would still have to win the season since the finals won’t be until April.
If you're a subscriber to the Wrestling Observer, you can see the entire report right over here, which also provides details about the still-growing UFC women's division and an altercation between bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and three-division world champion boxer Vic Darchinyan.
Season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter kicks off on Tuesday, Jan. 22, on FX Networks, with Jones and Sonnen expected to fight for the UFC light heavyweight title at a later date.
Jones vs. Sonnen will mark the champion's fifth title defense since September 2011, as he attempts to match former UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz's record of five successful defenses.
For Sonnen, it will be his third championship bout in five fights since August 2010, an achievement marred by two losses to pound-for-pound middleweight titan Anderson Silva. Sonnen has notably drawn some ire in the MMA community for getting a title fight with Jones due to his marketability, despite coming off a loss and not having any recent wins at light heavyweight.