It wasn’t but a month and a half ago that Jon Jones turned down a short-notice fight against Chael Sonnen, primarily citing the fact that it wasn’t in his best interests as a professional to take a world-title fight with almost no time to prepare for his specific opponent.
Jones was the primary player left holding the bag when UFC 151, where he was supposed to have fought Dan Henderson, was cancelled. Yes, it was Henderson that got injured and waited until two weeks prior to the scheduled date to finally determine he couldn’t continue, but the brunt of the criticism from fans and UFC president Dana White was leveled squarely at Jones.
Now, after defeating Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 in late September, but injuring his arm in the process, Jones has accepted a coaching role opposite Sonnen on the seventeenth season of The Ultimate Fighter with the two squaring off in the Octagon next April.
For Jones, the decision to take a leadership role on TUF and to face Sonnen was a matter of moving on from one of the more turbulent episodes in his life.
“Money had nothing to do with it. It really just had to do with just getting over this chapter in my career,” Jones said on Wednesday. “I’m trying to move forward and do a lot of amazing things and the UFC 151 cancellation, it was a tough moment in my career.
“I think beating Chael Sonnen, and after that beating Dan Henderson, would help me have closure to that whole situation. I think that’s what this is really about for me, putting closure to the Chael Sonnen invasion of my career and the whole 151 situation.”
Jones added that declining the short-notice fight had nothing to do with a lack of confidence in believing he would defeat Sonnen. Jones is confident in his skills and makes no bones about seeing himself as a championship fighter, but he doesn’t see Sonnen in the same vein.
“I’m a championship fighter and I don’t think Chael’s really a guy that knows how to win championships. I believe in every way, shape and form that I will beat Chael.”
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