It has been roughly two weeks since UFC President Dana White did the unthinkable and completely cancelled UFC 151 when light heavyweight champion Jon Jones refused to fight Chael Sonnen on 8 days notice.
Immediately after an infuriated White blasted Jones and his coach Greg Jackson in the press conference, an extremely large percentage of the MMA community took to social media to do the very same. In fact, the hate mail has become so overwhelming that multiple media outlets have vilified “Bones” as the most hated fighter in the UFC today.
If you walk up to a group of fight fans on the street and ask them their opinion of Jones, I guarantee you all or most of them will describe him and coach Jackson as the “scum of MMA” and every other word out of their mouth will probably be a curse word of some sort.
The truth is, and don’t get out your pitchforks when I say this, Jones is not a bad guy and neither is coach Jackson or Mike Winkeljohn. I am not supporting his decision to decline a fight with Sonnen nor am I blaming any of you for being frustrated with the entire situation but let’s take a deep breath and analyze it like mature adults for a second.
It is very easy for any of us to say that Jones should have just agreed to fight Sonnen on a week’s notice when original opponent Dan Henderson fell out with a knee injury.
After all, Jones was in fighting shape and would have been in much better physical condition than Sonnen. You can also make the argument that Sonnen is a less dangerous matchup than Henderson, that he doesn’t possess the power to damage Jones and would have been the perfect stylistic matchup for the youngest champ in UFC history to impose his will.
You could also use the line that as a champion, Jones should be willing to take on any and all comers on any given notice. These are all somewhat valid points but when you really delve into it, they are merely assumptions.
We are simply assuming that Sonnen, a man with nothing to lose and a guy that nearly defeated the seemingly unbeatable Anderson Silva two years ago, would have absolutely nothing to threaten Jones with. We are assuming that because he comes from the same Team Quest camp as Henderson that Jones would already have a gameplan set, even though Sonnen is a completely different fighter than Henderson.
We are also assuming that Jones, who has finished four former champions in dominant fashion and is close to breaking Tito Ortiz’ all time record for 205-lbs title defenses, should just blindly risk the position he has worked so hard to achieve, just because he is a champion and as a champion he should not hesitate to fight anyone on a moment’s notice.
Again, I am neither agreeing nor disagreeing with Jones’ refusal to fight Sonnen. If you want to be mad at him for that, go ahead and be frustrated but the man is still one of the most dominant champions in the world and he made a decision that he and his coaches felt were in his best interest. You can’t blame Jones for looking out for himself in that regard. This is such an unpredictable sport where any competitor can defeat another on any given night so specific preparation for every opponent is crucial.
As far as the cancellation of the entire event, if Jones knew ahead of time that the whole fight card would get scrapped if he didn’t jump in there with the former middleweight contender, I am sure he would have made a different decision.
Several fighters that were supposed to compete on the card, most notably Charlie Brenneman, have been extremely harsh with Jones but have said absolutely nothing to the man who actually decided to call off the show or the matchmaker who failed to book a solid co-main event that could have potentially saved the pay-per-view.
I’m not saying we should all send nasty tweets and emails to White or Joe Silva because they didn’t do anything wrong either. The UFC is pumping out fight cards like nobody’s business and with all of the injuries and fights it is very difficult to stack every single pay-per-view with two massive main events.
They are doing a brilliant job of running and booking the largest MMA organization in the world but I am just pointing out that Jones shouldn’t be blamed entirely for UFC 151 not having another fight to keep it on PPV.
Speaking of blame, why isn’t anyone saying anything about former champion and perennial contender Lyoto Machida turning down a fight with Jones both at UFC 151 and UFC 152? It’s perfectly ok for Machida to turn down a fight on 3 weeks’ notice but Jones is a terrible champion for not fighting a new opponent in 8 days?
That makes about as much sense as Henderson telling the UFC of his injury two weeks after it happened. With all due respect to Henderson, the man is a legendary fighter but he should have alerted his bosses when the issue first arose rather than having them scramble around to try to save the show with a week before the fight.
Don’t take this the wrong way, I am not encouraging you to direct your frustration off of Jones and pour it on White, UFC matchmaker Silva, Machida, Henderson or anyone else for that matter. What I am doing is encouraging you to stop the hate all together.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are all fans of the greatest combat sport in the entire world. In two weeks, at UFC 152 we are going to see Jones defend his crown against former champion/devastating knockout artist Vitor Belfort and even though the pairing is a bit strange it would be a miracle if that fight didn’t deliver fireworks.
On that very same card, the UFC will crown its first flyweight champion as Joseph Benavidez battles Demetrious Johnson. Top middleweights Michael Bisping and Brian Stann will collide in what should be a barn-burner and a ton of exhilarating matchups fill out the rest of the card.
What exactly are we complaining about? Don’t let negativity consume the sport that we love.Tags: Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson, Dana White, greg jackson, jon jones, lyoto machida, UFC 151, UFC 152, ufc jon jones, Vitor Belfort