Everyone in the MMA world knows by now that Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones are currently filming the next season of the Ultimate Fighter, but who knew that each has their own history with the long running reality program? That’s right, the current light-heavyweight champion and supposed number one contender both had the chance to be on the show at one time. Obviously, neither of them missed much since they each eventually made it to the UFC, but the reasons and seasons they missed out on could have been very different if they had been on it.
Chael was actually invited to be on the first season of the Ultimate Fighter. He knew one of the coaches very well at the time. as he trained with Team Quest teammate Randy Couture, who coached opposite Chuck Liddell. Sonnen had declined. Probably for the best as he held a loss to eventual winner Forrest Griffin earlier in his career. Sonnen made it into the UFC anyhow, after TUF 1 at the end of 2005. The rest is history, but how would his personality have meshed in the house that was the first season with fighters like Griffin, Bonnar, Koscheck, and Leben?
“I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what it was. I sat down and watched it, and I regretted that decision. I really enjoyed watching it, and all these years later, here I am.”
Jon Jones story is a bit different in that he tried out at the tender age of 20 years old, which at most he would have had about four bouts under his belt. He made it past the first round, but when he went to grappling tryouts, he was told he was too young. While it may have took longer for him to enter the octagon, it was not that long considering he became the youngest champion in the promotion ever. So, fans while people point out that the reality show is past its prime, it’s amazing to see what type of fighters they turn away, despite their destiny for greatness.
“I tried out for ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ back when I was 20 years old,” Jones said. “I remember making it through the first round and then approaching a table to grapple for the second round and having Dana—I think himself, I remember him being at the table—saying, ‘Man, you’re too young. You’re 20 years old, and you have to be 21 to apply for this show, but we’re going to let you roll anyways. But you can’t go much further than this.’ I was like, ‘Alright.’ I was rolling and having a great time, and that was it. That was the end of the scenario.”