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Dana White clearly knows what he's getting himself into by putting Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter and booking them to fight on April 27th. But was it the right move?
Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen. A bout between the two was all but a foregone conclusion to Dana White on August 23rd, eight days before UFC 151. Then Jones threw a wrench into everything by turning down the bout, which led to the cancellation of the event and subsequent re-booking of Jones vs. Vitor Belfort at UFC 152. The UFC wanted to book Jones, the light heavyweight champion, against Sonnen, a middleweight who lost his last two title bouts in that division, purely because no other options were available. It was the only way to save a card that was poorly booked in the first place. It wasn't a competitive scrap by any means.
And now they want to book it again? And commit a season of their reality show to it as well?
I get some of the logic. Jones is hurt, and can't fight for a while. It's probably smart to keep him in the spotlight to a degree, even if The Ultimate Fighter is a spotlight that's in real danger of burning out. They've been trying to book Sonnen as a coach on the show for a while now. He's a good mouthpiece and has been around the sport for a long time. In some way, each side makes sense.
But not against each other.
Booking stuff like this just makes the UFC look less sporting and more about profit everyday. There are a pack of light heavyweight fighters out there that deserve an opportunity to compete for the title in their own division. Sure, some of them have already had their chance and failed. But why does a mouthy middleweight who is coming off a bad loss get a title shot in a division he hasn't competed in since 2006? I understand that it is a business first and foremost, but spending six months building a non-competitive title fight between these two seems like pure desperation to me.
No coach can turn around The Ultimate Fighter. Not Jon Jones. Not Chael Sonnen. They could have Manny Pacquiao vs. Georges St. Pierre on there and no one would care. The coaches aren't the problem. The format is. So while Jones could be coaching against a true contender in his division to keep him out there, Sonnen could be making bank as the third-most popular PPV draw in the company...by fighting on PPV. Instead, they'll both be languishing on FX for three months, generating manufactured drama and earning mediocre numbers for the efforts. And then they'll probably draw a PPV buyrate that's below everyone's expectations because the fight is so non-competitive, and wonder what happened.
If this isn't what's known as hot shot booking, I don't know what is.