The latest MMA rumor mill story that seems to be gaining more credibility than it should is the suggestion that Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva may be coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV.
Surprisingly, the mainstream MMA media is actually spouting this possibility as more than probable. The story seems to have originated at Cage Potato, which is often full of tongue-in-cheek humor, so it's a bit troubling that now it's graduating to being thrown out by other media outlets. The idea is that a mini-feud over Chael Sonnen's smack talk about Brazil is giving rise to a scenario in which they would make good coaches on the next TUF installment. The problem with this is there's no logic or hard evidence to back this up.
First, Chael Sonnen is embroiled at the moment in steroid controversy. He can't even fight until next March. Second, Wanderlei Silva is a huge step down from Anderson Silva, Sonnen's last opponent. Though these facts don't rule out a potential fight between the two sometime next year, it seems like the support just isn't there for them to be TUF coaches.
Silva has a busy Las Vegas gym with over 300 members already, and though the TUF filming in Vegas would be convenient for him, he's becoming more popular as a coach than as a fighter. By TUF's design the coaches have to fight at the end of it all, and Silva should start smaller in his quest to return from his knee injury and re-establish himself as a contender. Chael Sonnen, with or without elevated Testosterone levels, would be a very bad comeback choice for "The Axe Murderer."
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Sonnen, though he talks tough on Twitter about this match-up, would probably sign up to take a rematch with the other Silva before he would even entertain a lesser opponent. His close call loss to Anderson Silva was slated for a rematch until the suspension came down and the news of his testosterone use began circulating. Though this makes it more of a sideshow than the UFC needs, it's controversy, and even bad publicity is still publicity.
Plenty of fighters have been calling out Silva or hinting a match with him would make sense. Chael Sonnen would not be the best choice out of the group. Filming for TUF 13 starts next month, and White insists he has not made up his mind on the coaches, but he was asked formally about Sonnen/Silva and would not rule it out. Perhaps he's just seeing how fans might react to these rumors, or maybe he's just trying to making sure the real choices are a huge surprise, but entertaining these two as coaches seems like a bad idea.
Silva would be a fantastic choice because of his coaching reputation, but putting Sonnen in the spotlight now would be asking for trouble. The UFC in recent years finally stopped letting TUF fighters destroy the house each season and seem to be concentrating less on the drama and more on the action in recent seasons. Bringing Sonnen in--a notorious trash talker and a steroid user who just got a slap on the wrist for having Testosterone levels 4 times over the legal limit--is a bad signal to send.
Sonnen was already given a free pass with a six-month reduction in his suspension and a minimal $2,500 fine for the positive test. Acting like nothing ever happened and giving this guy more opportunities in the spotlight just makes it seem as if the UFC brass doesn't care about fighters using steroids and will reward them when they do.
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These are still just rumors, but if they become reality plenty of other worthy coaches will be getting the shaft so Sonnen can swoop in and resurrect his career at their expense. Dana White may make his decision as early as Monday. Hopefully it's one that makes sense for the UFC and provides a spotlight for more of a role model than Chael Sonnen.