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UFC:

Jon Jones wanted to fight Chael Sonnen to move on from recent controversy

Jones and Sonnen arriving in Las Vegas to film ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ before the end of the month

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jon Jones speaks during the UFC 152 pre-fight press conference at the Real Sports Bar and Grill in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. Jones will be facing Vitor Belfort for the light heavyweight title at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

For someone who appears close to unbeatable in the octagon, Jon Jones sometimes feels like he can’t win when he’s not fighting.

Rewind eight weeks to understand. The light heavyweight champion refused to accept a last-minute fight with Chael Sonnen, causing the promotion to cancel UFC 151 and fans to turn on one of world’s best fighters.

“I had the whole world calling me a sissy and a wuss and saying I was afraid of Chael Sonnen,” Jones said. “Even my own fans questioned why I wouldn’t fight Chael Sonnen.”

Now jump to the present. Jones accepted a fight with Sonnen, slated for April 27, that will take place after they coach against each other on the 17th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Instead of excitement about the bout, however, the early reaction consisted almost entirely of negative feedback, with everyone wondering whether Sonnen makes any sense for Jones.

“It seems like a lot of people have jumped on the train of Chael not deserving a title shot,” Jones said. “They jumped on that train a little too late. I think I’m over the fact of whether he deserves it or not.”

The combination of the original controversy and Sonnen’s relentless taunts got to Jones. The way Jones tells it, the vitriol leveled at UFC President Dana White for booking Sonnen as the next 205-pound challenge isn’t totally fair.

Jones wanted, and asked for, Sonnen even if it meant the former middleweight passed Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida — who both protested the pairing in posts on twitter — in the title queue. Neither Jones nor Sonnen are going to apologize now.

“So, what, I talked my way into it?” Sonnen asked. “I wanted it and I got it. I talked a cat out of a tree earlier today. I’ll do whatever I want. I’ve got plenty of jobs I wasn’t qualified for, but I went in and I got promoted anyway. At the end of it all, good for me. Chalk one more up for the bad guy.”

Sonnen also spoke highly of the opportunity to compete against Jones as coaches on “TUF,” which he called the toughest tournament in all of sports. The gig was made possible because an arm injury Jones suffered in his fourth-round TKO win over Vitor Belfort last month.

Doctors told Jones last week that he couldn’t fight for six months after Belfort tore parts of his elbow with a deep first-round armbar attempt. The UFC and Jones saw the layoff as an opportunity to present him to a weekly television audience against his next foe.

The show will begin filming locally in two weeks and start airing on FX at a date to be determined in January.

“Chael Sonnen is going to take half of these young men and teach them to be fighters, and Jon Jones is going to take half of these young mean and teach them to be selfish,” Sonnen said. “The good news is for Jon’s team, I’m sure when it’s all over, he’ll throw a hell of an after-party.”

That’s a cheap shot toward Jones’ DUI arrest earlier this year. Expect plenty more trash talk from Sonnen on the show.

Jones knew the insults were coming either way, so he figured he might as well fight Sonnen now. He calculated it as the fastest route to move on from everything that’s happened in the last eight weeks.

“The UFC 151 cancellation was a tough moment in my career,” Jones said. “I think beating Chael Sonnen, and after that beating Dan Henderson, would help me add closure to that whole situation.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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