MANILA, Philippines – Mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran Dan “Hendo” Henderson believes the upcoming light-heavyweight title fight between current champion Jon “Bones” Jones and Chael Sonnen is bad for the sport.
Jones will defend his UFC light-heavyweight belt against Sonnen next April. A former middleweight contender, Sonnen will be competing at the division for the first time in seven years.
Before the title fight, both Jones and Sonnen will serve as coaches in “The Ultimate Fighter,” and Henderson believes this is the true reason the fight was put together.
“I understand that (UFC president Dana White) does what he does for the UFC and always has, first and foremost,” Henderson told MMA Fighting.
“He tries to accommodate the fighters as he can, but it’s more about saving the ratings on 'The Ultimate Fighter' show, and I understand that,” he added.
“The Ultimate Fighter,” a reality show that seeks to find the next UFC contender, has been struggling with its ratings, but is expected to get a boost with Jones and Sonnen as coaches.
But for Henderson, this decision may end up costing the UFC.
“I absolutely think it was a bad decision for the sport. It just makes the sport lose a little bit of integrity,” he said.
Henderson was in line to face Jones for the title last September, but was forced to pull out of the bout with just eight days to go due to a knee injury. Sonnen offered to take his place in the fight card, but Jones turned it down.
Jones wound up defending his title against former champion Vitor Belfort later that month, and later, the fight against Sonnen was announced.
Henderson said he doesn't blame Sonnen for jumping at the chance to face Jones.
“Someone offers him a fight and a great opportunity like that, why wouldn't he take it?” he pointed out.
The veteran fighter is now aiming to get back inside the Octagon by February, hopefully against another former light-heavyweight champion, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.
“I think that’s what’s being talked about. We’ll wait and see. I don’t think it’s a secret. Dana already announced he was going to try to put him and me together,” Henderson said.