Jon Jones, Chael Sonnen the next coaches on 'The Ultimate Fighter'
Chael Sonnen did it again. He talked his way into a title fight.
This time, it's a light heavyweight title fight against Jon Jones and he hasn't even fought in that division in more than four years.
The only thing he has to do is make it through the grueling process of coaching raw mixed martial artists on Season 17 of "The Ultimate Fighter" opposite the champion Jones. UFC president Dana White revealed the news to the Los Angeles Times on Tuedsay.
Season 17 is scheduled to begin filming Oct. 29 with middleweights and start airing in January 2013. Jones and Sonnen would then fight each other for the title on April 27 at a venue to be determined.
This pairing of coaches is sure to boost the sagging ratings since UFC's deal with Spike expired and the promotion signed with a multi-platform agreement with Fox. "TUF" on FX debuted earlier this year with live fights on Fridays, but switched back to the taped episodes for the current season which also airs on Friday nights.
It was Jones who turned down a fight against Sonnen on nine days' notice in August, leading to the cancelation of UFC 151. Jones was scheduled to defend his belt against Dan Henderson, who injured his knee two weeks out. Sonnen agreed to step in, but Jones declined. That set off a Twitter war between Sonnen and Jones, and as talented as Jones is in the cage, Sonnen will win a verbal battle against just about anyone in any sport, not just MMA.
"I know you will never fight me," Sonnen tweeted last August. "Don't be afraid. But I'll always be the monster in the closet of your mind, little JJ."
Jones defended his title at UFC 152 four weeks ago with a fourth-round submission of Vitor Belfort. But Belfort nearly pulled off the win with an armbar in the first round. Jones managed to escape but suffered some damage. The elbow injury will require extensive physical therapy, White told the Times, and he is not expected to be back in the octagon until the fight against Sonnen next April.
Sonnen was slated to fight Forrest Griffin at UFC 155 on Dec. 29 as part of the UFC's traditional year-end card, but that will not take place.
"The more I realize how bad the fans want me to fight Sonnen," Jones tweeted last week, "the more I am beginning to disregard whether he deserves it or not,"