When Chael Sonnen was unveiled as the next man to get a shot at the UFC’s light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones some of the UFC’s other top 205lb contenders along with a number of fans indicated that they felt it was unfair, but UFC president Dana White is sticking by his decision.
Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida are amongst those who have expressed their bemusement at Sonnen, who’s last fight ended in a second round TKO loss to Anderson Silva at 185lbs, being prematurely propelled to the summit of their division, and given that they had been widely considered as the top contenders they have a point.
However, according to White they both had their chance and turned it down, so they only have themselves to blame.
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Dan Henderson had the opportunity for the fight and he got injured,” White stated during a media conference call yesterday to officially announce Jones and Sonnen as TUF 17 coaches.
“Everyone of these guys that are bitching about a title show now, were offered the fight and turned it down. They refused to fight Jon Jones. Now they’re bummed out because Chael stepped up on eight days notice and he’s going to coach The Ultimate Fighter and fight him? I mean, it’s pretty simple.”
White also noted that Henderson was only originally expected to be out injured for a few weeks after withdrawing from his headline duties at UFC 151, so he was offered the chance to fight Jones at UFC 152 a month instead, but he also turned down that opportunity.
In all fairness White is playing a game of smoke and mirrors here. There’s no reason why Henderson couldn’t coach opposite Jones on TUF 17, giving both men plenty of time to heal from their respective injuries.
Instead it’s pretty obvious that they felt that they had to do something fairly drastic to get the flagging TUF show back up to speed, and with that in mind bringing in guaranteed ratings-winner like Chael Sonnen on-board instead made more sense.
Regardless of the reasoning the decision has been made and I can’t deny that I’m intrigued to see what will happen on the set of TUF 17 between Jones and Sonnen, and how it might affect the overall ratings for the season.