After two mediocre seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show on FX, the UFC is deciding to go big four their third effort as UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will coach a team of up-and-coming fighters opposite Chael Sonnen.
At the conclusion of the show, the two fighters will meet for Jones’ 205-pound championship at an unannounced event on April 27.
“This should be a good one,” UFC President told the Los Angeles Times, who were the first to report the news. “Jon has accepted the fight. He knows the fans want to see that fight.”
The season will begin taping on Oct. 29 and is set to feature middleweight participants. The show will debut on FX in early January.
Jones (17-1) last fought at UFC 152 on Sept. 22 where he defeated Vitor Belfort via fourth-round submission. The victory marked Jones’ fourth successful title defense and the 25-year-old only needs one more to tie UFC Hall-of-Fame inductee Tito Ortiz for the record. Although Jones is a very young fighter in his own right, he carries a wealth of experience against high-level opponents and along with his coaching staff will surely be able to pass along an abundance of knowledge to his team members.
“Leaving for Vegas in about a week to coach the ultimate fighter TV show.” Jones tweeted shortly after the news was announced.
It was not long ago that Jones said he would not fight Sonnen unless the former middleweight title challenger earned his shot at the belt. The New York native repeatedly stated he would not let Sonnen talk his way into a fight with him, but last week Jones changed his tune.
“The more I realize how bad the fans want to see me fight Sonnen the more I am beginning to disregard whether he deserves it or not,” Jones wrote on his personal Twitter account. “A part of me wants to do it for the fans the other part of me feels as if it delegitimizes the importance of championship.”
In declining to face Sonnen in August, Jones (17-1) explained that he wasn’t fully comfortable risking the belt against the 35-year-old skilled wrestler with a relentless, attacking style that nearly allowed him to upset middleweight champion Anderson Silva in 2010.
Sonnen (28-12-1) will get an opportunity to fight for the UFC light heavyweight championship without having a single fight at 205-pounds in over six-years. The 35-year-old last fought on July 7 in Las Vegas, where he lost to middleweight champ Anderson Silva for the second time. After the defeat, Sonnen decided a change in weight class was in order and decided to move to light heavyweight. Sonnen was expected to fight Forrest Griffin at UFC 155 on Dec. 29, however the UFC has decided to remove him from the bought to coach against Jones on the reality show.
It is unknown at this time if “The Ultimate Fighter 17″ will air on Friday night as the first two seasons on FX have or if the UFC and the network will move the show to another night.