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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
There's going to be a lot to say this week about the cancelation of UFC 151 next week, and a lot of the conversation is going to surround Jon Jones and him turning down a fight against Chael Sonnen on eight days notice.
UFC President Dana White was absolutely visceral in his anger towards Jones on a media conference call on Thursday, ripping into Jones and especially his head trainer Greg Jackson for refusing that bout.
"[Greg Jackson told Jones] 'You don't take this fight on eight days notice, it would be the biggest mistake of your entire career,'" White said. "[Jackson] is exactly why he didn't take the fight."
"This guy is a f***ing sport killer," he continued, adding later, "I'm very confused by his whole f***ing business plan, I don't give a shit what he thinks. He's a f***ing weirdo, man."
White simply couldn't understand Jones' decision to turn down a fight with Sonnen, while Sonnen jumped at the opportunity to take the fight. He added that it wasn't just about Jones, as it affected the rest of the fighters on the card as well.
"This is one of the most selfish, disgusting decisions that doesn't just affect you," White said.
And he wasn't alone. In interviews with Yahoo! Sports, both Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen expressed their disbelief at Jones refusing to take that fight.
"This is the first time in UFC history that the champion wouldn't step up and fight [a replacement], and I was pretty shocked to hear that," Henderson said. "It's not like he's injured. It's unbelievable to me that he wouldn't take that 'the show must go on' attitude. If there was any way I could have gone, and any way that I thought I could give myself a chance to win, I would have done that."
"I was shocked and I'm shocked much more that the show was canceled," Sonnen added. "We all have to pitch in and help. It surprised me [Jones turned down the fight]. That's the first time I can recall that happening."
Penick's Analysis: There are a number of facets to look at here. Jones turning down the fight with Sonnen on eight days notice is a defensible position. There is so much to lose from short notice fights at this level, especially this close to a fight, that it makes sense for Jones to not want to risk anything against a fighter he wasn't training for, not to mention a fighter he doesn't feel deserves to fight him at this stage. White offering that fight to Jones in the first place was a desperation move to save this card because they didn't have anything else to put on top. That's a risk with a card like this that doesn't have anything of name value outside of the main event, and the blame cannot be levied solely against Jones because he didn't want to fight Sonnen at this stage. Granted, he also isn't keen on fighting Machida a second time, but that's a fight that will happen next month in Toronto (again). This is a really unfortunate situation for all the fighters who were scheduled for next Saturday, but the blame does not lie with Jones alone, no matter how much White wants to throw it there. Regardless, Jones is going to receive a massive backlash from this situation, and we'll see how that affects his draw and his relationship with the UFC going forward.
[Jon Jones art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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