How can the UFC reinvigorate The Ultimate Fighter series in it’s hour of need? Today the UFC unveiled their answer – bring in two of the sport’s biggest stars to coach the next season.
According to the L.A Times, light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen will coach TUF 17 early next year and then battle it out in the Octagon on April 27th.
The news comes after it was revealed that the fifth episode of the current season had hit an all-time ratings low with just 644,000 viewers tuning into FX on Friday night.
As far as giving the ratings a boost this is a masterstroke. Sonnen is the perfect candidate to draw eyeballs onto the show. His wise-cracking, fast-talking, showmanlike style was made for a platform like this and he should have a field day taking pot-shots at Jones who has already shown that he’ll quickly rise to Sonnen’s bait.
Of course bringing in one of the sport’s top three pound-for-pound talents will also help the ratings, and there’s already a legitimate rivalry between these two that’s only intensified due to the fact that Jones turned down a last minute fight with Sonnen which resulted in UFC 151 being scrapped.
This plan to rejuvenate TUF has drawbacks though, with the most significant being that there’s no way that Sonnen should be fighting for the title at this moment in time given that he’s yet to fight at 205lbs and is coming off a loss to Anderson Silva in his latest bid to get his hands on the middleweight title.
The winners of Dan Henderson Vs Lyoto Machida (a fight that’s still to be scheduled) and December’s Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua Vs Alexander Gustafsson bout would have been far more deserving of the shot that Sonnen.
It also suggests that Sonnen’s originally planned fight with Forrest Griffin at the UFC’s end of year show on December 29th will more than likely now be scrapped.
It could be argued taht the UFC are selling their soul here, but desperate time call for desperate measures and no one can deny that this upcoming season of TUF, which will begin filming on October 29th, will be must-see TV and will provide the perfect lead-in for what should be a blockbuster PPV event next year.