MANILA, Philippines – Some former champions of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) are unhappy that Chael Sonnen, a former middleweight contender, has been given a chance to fight Jon "Bones" Jones for the light-heavyweight title.
Sonnen and Jones will coach the 17th season of "The Ultimate Fighter" and then face off for the belt next April.
But some former light-heavyweight champions are wondering why Sonnen was given the title shot in the first place, since he has not fought at the weight class since 2005. Moreover, he is coming off a technical knockout loss to middleweight king Anderson "The Spider"Silva.
Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida, a former light-heavyweight champion, took to Twitter to express his frustration.
"With all respect, but for me Chael does not deserve the title shot. I would like to know what he had done in LHW (light-heavyweight) to deserve (the shot)," he tweeted.
Another veteran fighter, Dan Henderson, implied that Sonnen also got the title shot because of his impressive ability to market himself.
"I guess I should just quit training to win fights and to be exciting for fans and just go to sh*t-talking school," Henderson tweeted, even tagging UFC president Dana White.
Henderson was supposed to fight Jones for the belt at UFC 151, but pulled out with a little over a week to go because of injury. Sonnen volunteered to take his place, but Jones refused to fight him with just eight days' notice.
Sonnen was actually scheduled to face Forrest Griffin at UFC 155 in what would have been his first fight at light-heavyweight. Griffin is now left in limbo, although he says he does not hold it against Sonnen.
"I'm not mad at him. Why fight your way to the top when you can talk your way to the top?" Griffin said, as quoted by MMA Fighting.
Another former champion, Rashad Evans, admitted to Bloody Elbow that while he was not against the fight, it was tough to see Sonnen immediately get a title shot without even establishing himself at the weight class.
Evans had been mulling a move to middleweight in order to challenge Silva, but was informed that he needed to establish himself as a contender in the division first.
"As a fighter, I was like, 'man, what's it gonna take for me to get a chance to get back up in there?' I wanted to fight Anderson, but it didn't end up happening because they said I needed one more fight to be a contender at middleweight," Evans related.
"I guess it's not the same for everybody."
Still, he commended the UFC for "making the fights happen that the people love to see."
Meanwhile, Sonnen has been unapologetic about how he got his shot at the championship.
"Welcome to life. We don't deserve things, you get what you get," Sonnen said, as quoted by ESPN.