MANILA, Philippines – Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light-heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones will defend his belt against former middleweight contender Chael Sonnen on April 27 next year.
UFC president Dana White confirmed the news to the Los Angeles Times.
"This should be a good one. Jon has accepted the fight. He knows the fans want to see that fight," White told Lance Pugmire of the LA Times.
No venue for the fight has been announced yet.
But even before they step inside the Octagon, Jones and Sonnen will already work against each other as they have been cast as opposing coaches in the 17th season of "The Ultimate Fighter" (TUF).
LA Times reported that Jones and Sonnen's season of TUF will begin shooting on October 29 in Las Vegas.
Jones and Sonnen have been engaged in a Twitter war as early as August. It started when Sonnen offered to take the place of the injured Dan Henderson, who was supposed to challenge Jones in UFC’s September 1 fight card.
But Jones refused to fight Sonnen on eight days' notice, leading the entire fight card to be scrapped. Jones would go on to defend his title against Vitor Belfort in late September, which saw him survive an armbar in the first round to win by submission.
White said the Jones-Sonnen fight can only be held in April because the champion has been advised by doctors to undergo physical therapy as his arm was injured in the Belfort fight.
Sonnen was supposed to face Forrest Griffin in a light-heavyweight clash at UFC 155 in late December, but that fight has since been scrapped. Griffin will still fight in the card against a yet to be named foe.
Jones has been reluctant to face Sonnen, believing it "delegitimizes" his title as Sonnen has not fought or beaten anyone at the division that would justify his title shot.
But Jones tweeted last week that he is starting to see how much UFC fans want to see him fight Sonnen.
"The more I realize how bad the fans want to see me fight Sonnen, the more I am beginning to disregard whether he deserves it or not," Jones tweeted.
Sonnen is most famous for his pair of fights against middleweight king Anderson "The Spider" Silva. He came close to beating the Brazilian legend when they fought at UFC 117, dominating Silva for four rounds before submitting to a triangle choke in the fifth round.
In their rematch last July, Sonnen lost via technical knockout in the second round.