UFC President Dana White understood some fans wouldn’t be happy when he decided to slot light heavyweight champion Jon Jones against Chael Sonnen. However, to hear him tell it, White didn’t have a lot of options considering Jones’ need to recover from an arm injury he sustained in his September title-defense against Vitor Belfort.
“Basically, we got the word after we got his elbow checked, that he couldn’t fight until April. So, it made sense for him to do the Ultimate Fighter,” said White in a conference call with media, explaining that the time would give the organization a time to truly establish a clear-cut contender considering the possibilities currently out there. “Lyoto Machida can fight, Dan Henderson can fight, Alexander Gustafsson and (Mauricio Rua) are gonna fight in December… everything will keep right on moving.”
“It made sense. These guys will both coach the Ultimate Fighter, they’ll fight when the season’s over, and then whoever’s next in line at 205 pounds can fight Jon Jones for the title,” he concluded as far as the company’s approach to contendership, also pointing out that it wasn’t as if the belt was being held up until April because of TUF but rather because of Jones’ injury.
Another factor in making the match involved Jones’ desire to silence Sonnen after a stream of smack following the 25-year old’s decision to decline a bout on short notice with the outspoken grappler.
“Obviously Chael wants this fight and has been asking for this fight,” began White, mentioning the fans as well, before bringing Jones into the equation. “Jon said, ‘Listen, I can’t fight until April. I’d like to go in there and whoop Chael’s ass and then I’ll defend the belt against whoever you want me to defend the belt against.”
While Jones’ bout against Sonnen certainly pushes back his availability to put his gold up for grabs against a legitimate challenger, the well-rounded phenom has shown extreme confidence in his ability he can escape the bout with Sonnen unscathed, meaning White’s plan may just work out fine no matter what the public’s perception currently is.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC