Sonnen, who coaches on the upcoming 17th edition of the series, says he actually turned down a spot on "TUF 1."
"When the show very first started, the first coaches ever were my coach, friend, teammate Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell, arguably the greatest light heavyweight ever," Sonnen told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "In fact, the argument would be between those two: Chuck and Randy. I was just a fan. I watched it as a fan. They asked me to be on the show as an athlete, and I passed on the chance. It was on a different network at that time, but an executive at that office invited me on as an athlete. Then I loved the show.
Sonnen's opposing coach also had a near-miss with "The Ultimate Fighter," albeit much later in the show's run. Because of the presence of alcohol in the "TUF" house, contestants must be at least 21 years old. Jones, who would go on to win the UFC's 205-pound title at just 23 years old, was underage when he went to an open tryout session and was ultimately told there was no way to bend the rules.
"I tried out for 'The Ultimate Fighter' back when I was 20 years old," Jones said. "I remember making it through the first round and then approaching a table to grapple for the second round and having Dana – I think himself, I remember him being at the table – saying, 'Man, you're too young. You're 20 years old, and you have to be 21 to apply for this show, but we're going to let you roll anyways. But you can't go much further than this.' I was like, 'Alright.' I was rolling and having a great time, and that was it. That was the end of the scenario."
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