The Ultimate Fighter now needs to look away from the idea of Chael Sonnen being one the coaches.
The news of Chael Sonnen’s indefinite suspension being upheld yesterday robbed the fans of a title contender in the middleweight division as well as taking away one of the sports biggest heels and trash talkers. Not even a year ago Chael Sonnen was a minute away from delivering on his promise that he was "five takedowns" away from a world title when he punished champion Anderson Silva for close to 24 minutes in their five round title fight.
Chael would succumb to a late come from behind submission by Silva that would go down as one of the most shocking endings to a fight in the history of the sport. Still, the legend of Chael Sonnen would burn on as a re-match began to be heavily anticipated literally hours after the end of the fight.
With the news of his hearing with the CSAC yesterday we also found out that should Chael be reinstated he would coach alongside Michael Bisping in the latest installment of the Ultimate Fighter which would be focused around the bantamweights and the featherweights (135-145). The two coaches in customary fashion would meet at the end of the show and in this instance would be to crown the number one contender to the middleweight title.
So what now?
With the numbers progressively dipping in this season’s show it has become apparent that there needs to be tweaks to the system to make the show once again successful. But how? I believe it starts with the coaches.
With the arrival of the bantamweights and featherweights through the WEC merger the smaller fighters in MMA will be allowed their chance to shine on the sports largest stage. With stars like Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber already headlining events it is only a matter of time before more come up from within the ranks.
Just like when the UFC opened its doors to the lightweight division years ago, the excitement and anticipation of a new weight class should spark some fans interest in who exactly these guys are. And with the news of who might be in on this seasons show, their interest in justified.
Most fans recognize the name Beebe, as in Chase Beebe former WEC world champion. Not as many would recognize little brother Carson and his entrance to the sport of MMA. Din Thomas and Ian McCall are veterans within the sport already and would like to use TUF as a push towards the big stage. The show regardless of they put on it will have a blend of established talent, prospects and storylines.
But who will tune in to watch without notable coaches to draw the interest? Here is who I think should coach TUF 14.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Forrest Griffin
The rematch that so many of us want to see. The two veteran fighters would provide invaluable experience knowledge to the fighters on the show.
Rua, a veteran of both the UFC and Pride has been in countless title fights and has fought a whose who of the light heavyweight division. He has also been a young up and comer who at one time was relatively unknown and proved his worth by taking big fights, big chances and becoming one of the legends of his weight class.
Griffin, a former champion himself has the experience and the big time exposure that most all fighters can envy. While also having an impressive resume what Griffin brings to the table more then anyone is a humble nature. Forrest has shown the regular normal laid back guy personality while being one of the biggest stars of the sport. Griffin was the first Ultimate Fighter winner and took part in what is often recognized as the most significant mixed martial arts fight in UFC history.
Both fighters can also offer the TUF contestants legendary fight camps. Griffin coming from Xtreme Couture where he has learned his Jiu Jitsu from black belt Robert Drysdale and his gym has a healthy dose of top fighters to poke their heads in which includes Randy Couture, Gray Maynard and former TUF winner Amir Sadollah.
Shogun trains overseas. Once trained at infamous Chute Box until he opened his own gym, Universidade da Luta. Offering his expertise in the art of Muay Thai while also holding a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt his brother Murilo, as well as partners Glaube Feitosa and Andre Amade are prominent instructors in the gym.
While there is no bad blood between the two in terms of trash talking there is plenty of heat when they lock the cage doors as Forrest already owns a submission victory over Shogun in late 2007. Many argue that Shogun was not in the best shape for the fight and now seeks redemption while Forrest plans to prove there was no fluke and he is the better fighter. The fight also puts both guys right on track for a title shot, which makes the season bear some serious implications in its conclusion.
Two very solid coaches and planned fireworks in the end. Can’t ask for much more then that.
They already have agreed verbally to each other for the fight, so why not let them fight? And coach the Ultimate Fighter.
Jake Shields is coming off a disappointing loss at the hands of welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in a fight that saw Shields stray from his strength of Jiu Jitsu and attempt to kick box with the superior striker. Before the loss Shields was on quite a tear; a six year, fifteen fight win streak through several different titles and organizations.
Penn, a former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion is coming off a draw with fellow welterweight Jon Fitch. In a fight that saw Penn out wrestle and grapple Fitch early on and succumb to the grinding nature of Fitch in the later round. Previously, Penn had knocked out former division king Matt Hughes in about 20 seconds.
Both fighters have the credentials to be coaches. Both have cemented their legacy in some shape or form and would be great mentors to the contestants. With Penn currently tending to an injury the time off coaching may very well be good timing for the UFC.
The back story is that which makes this coaching option even juicier. Fans of Penn know the relationship Penn once had within the Gracie family and fans of Shields know that his head trainer is in fact well respected Cesar Gracie. With the history of the families and the fighters, the TUF contestants will be treated with whatever coach they are selected to train under.
This fight also has title implications as both guys really need a big win to get on the winning track impressively to line up another shot at glory.
The UFC absorbed Strikeforce and as much as they would like to stay tight to their business as usual moniker. They can scrap the Aaron Simpson fight which is currently labeled as a preliminary fight anyways and start marketing and promoting the beef between the two.
Think Shamrock vs. Tito. Which set records and really pushed TUF to new levels.
With the money that Nick wants to go box, Dana could certainly entice him with some time off and money without fighting. The tricky part would be the weight that the two would need to fight at after the show. I am sure with Dana at the helm they could make a catchweight bout good for both fighters.
The show would be ratings gold if properly advertised. The two guys do not like each other and let us be honest for a second. Who didn’t tune in for Shamrock/Ortiz and Rampage/Evans to see what sort of confrontation happened between them?
Ever since the back and forth between the two in Strikeforce the fans of either fighter have been clamoring in their own back and forth battles in hopes the fight may take place. With the UFC marketing machine pushing it, it will only be a matter of time before the regular Spike audience catches on for the fun.
Beef aside, both fighters are veterans of the sport and have skills that the contestants could heavily benefit from. Miller has been in the cage with the likes of Jake Shields, Jacare Souza, Tim Kennedy and Robbie Lawler. While Nick has also assembled an impressive resume fighting notable names like Paul Daley, Takanori Gomi and Frank Shamrock.
The fight would sell itself week after week during the process of the show.
What are your thoughts of possible TUF coaching match ups?