Appearing on SportsCenter to plug The Ultimate Fighter season 17, which debuts tonight on FX, Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones opened up on both the reality show, the cancellation and UFC 151's cancellation.
While no new light was shed on UFC 151's cancellation, the two fighters certainly reinforced talk about how the initially-spiny relationship between the current light heavyweight champ and the former middleweight contender has become softer.
While Jones said a montage of clips featuring Dana White and Sonnen immediately after the UFC 151 cancellation played by ESPN reminded him why he initially wanted the fight, when asked to describe his relationship with his opponent, he quickly responded “professional.” Sonnen agreed and said “we started as competitors, and it quickly got transferred into being coaches.”
Sonnen would go on to praise Jones for his expertise as a coach, and complimented the amount of time and effort he put into his charges. He would go on to hype the raw talent of the contestants on the show, and once again discussed how The Ultimate Fighter is “the toughest tournament in sports”, a line Sonnen has always made sure to pull out when discussing the show. Jones would return the favor and say how he respects Sonnen and said the two of them “did a great job”.
What's more, when asked if disliking your opponent was important come fight night, the two agreed that it was not. Sonnen would go on to say that “we're going to fight, and we make no apologies for that, but we're not going to put on an act and pretend we're upset with each other.”
Some fans have been disappointed by the lack of friction between the two fighters since agreeing to coach opposite each other.
They originally gave fans one of the most epic Twitter feuds in MMA (or Twitter) history, and went for the jugular in their meetings in Fall 2012. Neither left anything on the table in conference calls, with Sonnen rubbing in Jones' DUI trouble, and Jones pointing out Sonnen's TRT use.
Either way, watch for The Ultimate Fighter season 17's debut tonight on FX in America, and on ESPN in the UK.
Additionally, keep an eye on the Bleacher Report for more info on the season as it unfolds.