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Las Vegas, Nevada – Following Tuesday’s major announcement regarding the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, the Ultimate Fighting Championship held its first conference call with the newly minted coaches of season 17, set to air on FX in January 2013. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones and challenger Chael Sonnen joined UFC President Dana White to share their thoughts on the news that has the sports world buzzing.
“Basically Jon Jones is out until April. He’s going to be sitting around for months anyway unable to fight. So it made sense for him to do The Ultimate Fighter. And everyone has been talking about this fight with Chael so it made sense for them to do TUF and then fight.
“We’re not clogging up the light heavyweight division, the champion is hurt and we are keeping the division rolling along. The division will keep right on moving, Machida will fight Henderson, Shogun will fight Gustafsson and by the time Jon comes back, the contenders will be ready: one, two, three.
“All the contenders who are pissed off they didn’t get the title shot are the same guys who I called, offered them the fight with Jon Jones in September, and they turned it down. I don’t want to hear any bitching from them. Chael was the only guy who stepped up and wants to fight Jon Jones. Chael wants this fight, the fans want this fight and we give the fans the fights they want to see. Chael Sonnen is the only guy who stepped up and wanted to fight.
“This is going to be a great season of The Ultimate Fighter.”
“My position on fighting Chael changed because I want to get over this chapter of my career. The UFC 151 cancellation was a tough moment in my career and beating Chael Sonnen will help me get closure. That’s what this is about – putting closure to the Chael Sonnen invasion of my career.
“I’m really confident going into this fight. My skill set and my youth will be too much for him. I’m a champion; Chael doesn’t know how to win championships.
“Now people are asking why fight Chael? Well, they have jumped on the “Chael didn’t deserve” train too late. They should have said that a month ago when I said it. But, now, I’m going to deal with this guy and put the Chael Sonnen chapter behind me.
“This has nothing to do with the belt in my mind. He’s not even getting close to the belt. This is about me taking care of Chael Sonnen. I respect some of the things he does for the sport, but he’s not a championship level athlete. I’m doing the sport a favor – and I’m doing Chael a favor – beating him and sending him to his true calling as a commentator doing TV shows. His ground and pound is very weak, he’s got no submission and he gets submitted all the time. When it comes to his wrestling, if he gets me down I don’t see any way for him to beat me. But I will train like a madman because losing to Chael Sonnen is not an option.
“On TUF, as a coach, I hope my passion for martial arts will inspire my fighters. The other thing I have to back up my passion is work ethic. I am in the middle (on whether this enhances reign as champion). I want to defend my belt against the No.1 contender but the fans want this fight with Chael, and just one month ago even people in my hometown were asking me why I didn’t want to fight Chael Sonnen.”
“This show is the single biggest, toughest elimination tournament in all of sport. I keep seeing people refer to TUF as ‘a reality show’ but this is tougher than the Olympic Games, this is tougher than an NFL season, it is a 16-man tournament of fighting taped over six weeks. This is so tough, guys like Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans come out of it and win world titles.
“Write this down – the toughest tournament in MMA is coming to FX. This isn’t four fights over 12 months, it is all over a very short period of time and I am excited to coach this show.
“I’m going to take half of these guys and teach them to be fighters, Jon is going to take the other half and teach them to be selfish.
“People are upset I’m fighting Jon? Welcome to life. You get what you get, not what you deserve. And I have to deal with this all the time, people who are jealous of what I’ve gotten in the sport. But I am No.1 because I say I am – and no one has been able to look me in the eye and say otherwise.
“(Light Heavyweight contenders) are blowing up their Twitter accounts bitching and moaning – but they won’t step up to fight me and they won’t step up and fight Jon Jones.
“Jon Jones is the best fighter I’ve ever seen. I would put Randy Couture above him, but he’s fantastic. He’s got techniques, which I don’t even know the names of. But he’s fought a lot of guys who are timid and afraid to fight. I will admit, he’s better skill-for-skill, but I am in better shape.
“He hasn’t beaten anybody until he beats me. He’s beaten a broken down guy with no knees in Shogun, a Hollywood extra in Rampage, and a has-been in Vitor Belfort. Who was next? Scott Ferrozzo? I would rather fight in the main event, I would rather fight for the title but, really, I just want to fight that brat Jon Jones.
“He continues to act like he’s done something special. He hasn’t. He uses that stupid word ‘disrespectful’ but I couldn’t care less about that – and he will find that out when I see him in Las Vegas.”
Don’t miss this season of The Ultimate Fighter Fridays, which continues on FX at 10 p.m. ET/PT with episode 6: “One Mission”. While Team Nelson has doubts about Roy’s leadership, Shane Carwin puts his squad through an unusual training session away from the gym. A prank at the house ignites heated smack talk between fighters. Then two more welterweights face off in the fifth preliminary fight.