Earlier today the MMA world was left in awe after the UFC decided to pull the plug on next weekend’s UFC 151 lineup when Dan Henderson was forced to withdraw from his headlining bout against light heavyweight champ Jon Jones and “Bones” refused to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice. Equally shocking, UFC President Dana White went much further than announcing the card’s cancellation by blasting Jones and trainer Greg Jackson, pointing a finger at the two of them being to blame for the upsetting news.
“When you are a champion, much less one of the guys who is supposed to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, you are supposed to step up,” said a “disgusted” White in a conference call on the matter. “Sure, Jon Jones is rich what does he care if he cancels the fight? But 20 other fighters on the card added up to almost a half a million dollars in purse money that Jones and Greg Jackson’s decision stole from them.”
While it may be easy to fault Jones/Jackson, the reality is the UFC is 100% to blame for booking a show unable to sustain itself in the wake of an emergency. You’re talking about an event scheduled to feature match-ups like Dennis Siver-Eddie Yagin, John Linekar-Yasuhiro Urushitani, and Dennis Hallman-Thiago Tavares on PPV. Had they been fully prepared, at least a strong co-headliner would have been in place instead of a bout between two guys coming off a loss (as Jake Ellenberger-Josh Koscheck was before Jay Hieron took Koscheck’s slot). That in itself would have saved the card as it has before in similar situations.
Furthermore, the notion Jones should risk his title and legacy to save a show is silly. He has much more to lose in a bout with Sonnen than he does to gain. If he wins, he beat a smaller guy coming off a defeat who didn’t have a full camp to prepare. If he loses, he falls to a smaller guy coming off a defeat who didn’t have a full camp to prepare. It is not his job to help earn the undercard fighters money or be concerned with the UFC’s business decisions. His job is to think about what’s best for his career and his family.
Also, lost in the public’s anger towards Jones is the notion he agreed to face Lyoto Machida with less than a month to prepare for him. Most champions who took a fight on such little notice would receive praise, yet Jones has become the target of a ton of hate not only from anonymous fans but his bosses as well.
The entire situation is a sad statement on the way White does business and the unrealistic expectations fans often put on fighters. It’s time to open our eyes and stop being sheep. Or, maybe it’s simply time to find a new shepherd.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC