The Los Angles Times' Lance Pugmire is reporting that UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones and the notorious Chael Sonnen are slated to coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter and then fight for the LHW title in April:
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.
Jones last defended his title against Vitor Belfort at UFC 152. He defeated Belfort via submission in the fourth round but only after a first round Belfort arm bar attempt left Jones with an injured right arm. According to a follow-up tweet from Pugmire, Jones' arm injury will necessitate a long layoff and since Jones would be on hiatus anyway, they decided to book him on TUF.
Sonnen last fought against Middleweight champ Anderson Silva at UFC 148, losing by TKO in the 2nd round. Sonnen had been set to return to the Light Heavyweight division against Forrest Griffin at UFC 155 on December 29 but that fight is now off according to a tweet from Pugmire. This means that Sonnen will be getting an immediate title shot despite not having fought at LHW in years and coming off a loss in his last fight at MW.
Jones notoriously declined to face Sonnen on extremely short notice at UFC 151, forcing the cancellation of the event. Jones had been scheduled to face Dan Henderson who had to bow out with a knee injury. At the time Jones said that his trainer Greg Jackson told him that facing Sonnen on short notice would be "the worst mistake of his career.
The Ultimate Fighter has been struggling against the lowest ratings of its 16 season run this year with Heavyweight coaches Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin failing to click with audiences. It will be very interesting to see if the combination of one of the UFC's best fighters and most outspoken personalities can re-ignite fan interest.