Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen will coach opposite each other on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter” before squaring off for the UFC light heavyweight title on April 27, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
UFC President Dana White confirmed the development with the publication on Tuesday.
“This should be a good one,” White stated in the report. “Jon has accepted the fight. He knows the fans want to see that fight.”
Shooting for “TUF 17” will reportedly begin Oct. 29 in Las Vegas, with a January premiere featuring middleweight contestants. The show’s April finale is expected to take place at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and air on FX, though Jones’ bout with Sonnen will likely serve as a separate pay-per-view headliner at a to-be-announced location.
The April fight date was necessary so that Jones will have time to rehab his injured arm, White said. “Bones” recently had his elbow stretched courtesy of a first-round armbar attempt from Vitor Belfort at UFC 152. Jones escaped the hold and earned a fourth-round submission, but his arm was damaged nonetheless.
The Sept. 22 matchup was booked after the cancellation of UFC 151, which was supposed to see Jones defend his title against Dan Henderson before the veteran withdrew due to injury. Sonnen offered to step up on short notice to fight Jones, but the champion turned the fight down, citing a lack of time to prepare for a new opponent. Jones was instead re-booked for UFC 152 three weeks later against Lyoto Machida, but that pairing would also not come to fruition, as “The Dragon” would not accept a rematch with Jones without time for a full training camp.
A former two-time UFC middleweight title contender, Sonnen was expected to return to the light heavyweight division on Dec. 29 against Forrest Griffin prior to today’s announcement. According to L.A. Times reporter Lance Pugmire, that bout will no longer take place. The 35-year-old last competed in a July 7 rematch with 185-pound champion Anderson Silva, who knocked the Oregonian out in the second round at UFC 148.