I don't like the fight
Hey, judging by fans on Twitter, I'm not the only one. True enough, some people view the matchup as great. I understand why. Sonnen is a showman. The TUF entertainment factor will be turned up to 10. For Jones, rehabbing during the taping of the reality show and desiring to close the chapter by putting Sonnen in his place is compelling stuff.
Plenty to look forward to, fine.
Here's why none of it matters: There are better tests out there for Jones, all of whom are unquestionably more deserving than Sonnen at 205 pounds.
That's the most obvious reason not to like the fight. This wasn't short notice. This wasn't a situation where an event had to be saved on a week's notice. It's not happening until the same weekend as the 2013 NFL draft, OK? There was time, and space, to put together a serious championship fight with Jones.
Dan Henderson deserved this shot and could have done it by April. Maybe even Mauricio Rua or Alexander Gustafsson after their fight in December. Or Glover Teixeira fights one more time in 2013 and really gets on the radar. Who knows? They're all better fight options than Sonnen, who left light heavyweight after losing his first UFC bout at that weight. He's literally the least-deserving fighter to get a title shot at 205.
I disagree that Sonnen fighting Jones is akin to Frankie Edgar getting Jose Aldo, which has been a debate point this week. Edgar had been champion, was considered one of the 10 best fighters in the world and everyone asked him to drop 10 pounds. Sonnen is none of those. And who in their right mind was clamoring to see him back at light heavyweight?
Do you believe a featherweight exists who would give Aldo a harder time than Edgar? (I don't.) If yes, Edgar has to be in the top three at least. I don't think the argument works for Sonnen.
In the end, it's shaky ground to hammer on a fighter for having the look of someone who will be blown away by Jones. To be fair, Jones pretty much beats up everyone. But at least when he does, you want to walk away feeling that he had to be that good.
Risk of a blowout
If it's as bad as people like me think it will be, is there risk in these types of events for the UFC? No question Sonnen's place here is driven by the need to boost TUF, which is switching to a different night, adding a new set of expectations. And Sonnen will have value for the UFC there. If he somehow piggybacks that with a competitive fight (he wouldn't even need to win), then it's all good for Zuffa, and critics morph into stupid whiners.
That's the long-shot scenario.
More likely, Sonnen won't get any offense off. His takedowns will be denied, probably a hair more graceful than Michael Bisping did. He crumbles on the end of Jones' reach.
And, that's that. The TV show. The talk. The hype. And that's that.
What will the reaction be?
This event will propel the TRT discussion
Jones didn't waste any time going after Sonnen regarding testosterone replacement therapy, the prescribed treatment that infuses patients, for presumably medical reasons, with regular doses of anabolic steroids.
Sonnen is the poster boy for TRT, having earned that distinction by going head-to-head with athletic commissions in California and Nevada after a positive test in 2010. Jones previously went after Henderson, who has used the treatment for several years but never encountered the kind of licensing issues Sonnen did.
But with Sonnen now needing to keep weight on, the issue may take on another dimension.
So with Jones discussing it this early, you know the topic will be mentioned plenty over the next few months. And Jones didn't hold back.
"I think it's absolutely terrible if you're going to consider yourself an athlete," Jones said during a conference call on Wednesday. "I mean, TRT would be perfect with Chael Sonnen if he wasn't competing in one of the toughest sports in the world.”
In theory, TRT is supposed to return testosterone levels to normal only after they've fallen to an abnormally low range. Jones, like many TRT critics, doesn't see it this way and expressed concern about the potential for abuse.
"Right now I'm 25," said Jones. "I'm sure I'm not as giddy and happy-go-lucky as I was when I was 20, so if I take a drug at my 25-year-old age and have the energy of a 20-year-old, it just wouldn't be fair. Everyone would hate me if I did it, but Chael Sonnen gets to do it? I think it's bullcrap."
Sonnen opted not to respond. At least Jones now knows what to say if he's tired of hearing from Sonnen.
Things of intrigue
Sonnen is thought to be masterful at this, and it looks as though Jones will play on the same battlefield. Their conference call earlier in the week offered plenty of examples.
TRT was an obvious shot. Jones insisted several times that Sonnen doesn't have the stuff to be champion. And Jones laid down the gauntlet, promising essentially to put Sonnen in his place. Jones portrayed it as if Sonnen didn't have a chance, which will mirror the prevailing attitude of fans coming into the fight.
I'm curious to see how Sonnen responds over the next six months. His persona and all of that will be questioned constantly. Truth is always the best antidote.
Prescription for TUF times
"The Ultimate Fighter" is worth discussing only when it churns out contender-level prospects. Otherwise, in my eyes at least, it's not much different than Golf Channel's "The Big Break."
One thing can save the show, make it meaningful and prompt viewers to tune in: fighters who seem to have the potential to become contenders someday.
Absent that, the show is just a show. And with all this MMA on the air, it's not as if people are clamoring to watch low- to mid-tier fighting on a regular basis, even if it's encased in the Octagon.
Sonnen made a compelling case for the show -- appealing, ironically, to its most sporting aspect: the tournament. No doubt, the fighters on the show are put through a trying few weeks. Quick fights in succession, no real preparation for the opponent. That's rough stuff. As he's prone to do, though, Sonnen went off the reservation trying to compare TUF to the Olympics or whatever he was doing.
Tournaments work. UFC was founded on them. Pride made its name on them. As always, it matters who's competing. The show finds itself in a difficult spot, competing in its own way for prospects against MMA promoters, including Zuffa.
Until that's figured out, what's the point in watching?