The UFC light heavyweight champion will get closer to a clear cut top contender on February 23, 2013. Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida will meet at UFC 157 in a battle of former Strikeforce and UFC champions in hopes of providing the UFC with an undisputed number one contender.
The announcement is now official and the fight will likely headline or semi-main event the UFC 157 event in Anaheim, California in 2013. Henderson will be coming off an arguable fight of the year for 2011 victory over former champion Shogun Rua while Lyoto Machida comes off of a one-sided dominant win over Ryan Bader.
This fight had been rumored for awhile yet the UFC appeared hesitant to pull the trigger. Henderson’s time table for returning has always been an issue as multiple reports indicated various dates in which he could return. Machida has been idle since the Bader win and with champion Jon Jones already booked for April the UFC opted to move forward with its two top contenders.
Where this gets real muddy is that Shogun Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson will take place shortly on the next UFC on FOX special. UFC president Dana White has indicated that the winner of that fight would be first in line for a UFC light heavyweight title fight. I would have to imagine that the winner of Henderson vs. Machida would get priority with the winner of Rua vs. Gustafsson being the backup should the new contender face a long layoff due to injury.
To make matters even more complex there is the Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva fight hanging over the division. The UFC is obsessed with making this fight in 2013. If Jones defeats Sonnen he won’t be able to take another title fight and the Silva fight before the end of the year. If Silva vs. GSP doesn’t happen, I could see the UFC holding Silva out until after Jones vs. Sonnen and doing whatever they can to make that fight happen. If that is the case you could be looking at a scenario where nobody is challenging for the UFC light heavyweight title in 2013 other than Chael Sonnen.
This is a really complicated fight. I have a hard time with Henderson having to take another fight after earning a title shot when you are now looking at two challengers in a row who were handed shots without merit. I put the whole UFC 151 blame on Henderson for failing to tell the UFC about his injury and I think this is a backhanded punishment from the company.
As for Machida that is another tough one. I never felt that he earned the title shot in the first place. A win over Ryan Bader gets you a title shot? Yet for whatever reason a giddy Dana White proclaimed Machida the new top contender to the world on FOX. Machida declining short notice fights with Jones put him in this position. I don’t blame Machida for turning down arguably the last title shot he’ll receive in a long time due to short notice. Putting Machida back in a fight almost makes White look foolish after calling the guy the top dog in the division in front of a national television audience.
Machida has opened on one sports book as a -240 favorite to Henderson as a +180 underdog. This now makes Henderson’s third fight in a row in which he will enter as an underdog. I love Henderson in this fight. Machida hasn’t decisively beaten an elite fighter in over three years ( I’m not counting an aged Randy Couture fighting his last fight as an elite win). I’ll take the guy coming off of wins over Rua, Fedor Emelianenko, Rafael Cavalcante riding a four-fight winning streak any day. Quite frankly I expect a bit of a boring fight here with Machida running and Henderson chasing for 3-5 rounds. Yet in the end I expect Hendo to take the win.
Dan Henderson’s knee injury days before UFC 151 sent the light heavyweight division into a tailspin. Where does Henderson fit into the picture once he returns? According to Hendo, it won’t be in a championship fight.
Dan Henderson has sat on the sidelines the last few weeks and watched his UFC light heavyweight title opportunity go up in smoke. UFC president Dana White threw the entire division for a loop when he named Chael Sonnen, a fighter who hasn’t fought in the division in years, as the number-one contender. Henderson now confirms that unlike Sonnen, he will indeed have to fight to get his title shot.
Henderson joined Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour for a revealing interview this past week. Henderson had some interesting things to say to the MMA reporter including what is next in his UFC career. Helwani asked Henderson about a rumored fight against Lyoto Machida which is now no longer just a rumor.
“I think that’s what’s being talked about,” he said. “We’ll wait and see. I don’t think it’s a secret. Dana already announced he was going to try to put him and me together.”
Helwani indicated that the fight could come as soon as UFC’s Super Bowl weekend show. That would stack the show with three marquee fights if you include Edgar vs. Aldo and the rumored Little Nog vs. Rashad Evans fights. My hunch is that either the Henderson or Evans fight moves off of the event but as of now that appears to be the working plan.
It is a really tricky situation here when you look at how this whole UFC 151 situation played out. Henderson earned his title shot with the win over Shogun Rua and hasn’t lost a fight in the UFC in years. Taking the title shot away from a guy due to injury sends a mixed message and isn’t really fair. On the other hand, Henderson really screwed the company by withholding his injury status for a reported two weeks. This is absolutely a punishment to Henderson and at the end of the day, I don’t know how fair that is yet the show must go on.
Interestingly enough Dave Meltzer recently reported on his F4Wonline.com podcast that the working plan was for the UFC to go with Jones vs. Henderson in February. Jones wouldn’t have been medically ready to go which put the fight on ice. Henderson told Helwani he would have coached opposite of Jones on TUF if asked. In hindsight you have to really wonder if Sonnen vs. Jones was a necessary evil at all.
Henderson vs. Machida is certainly an interesting fight. On paper you’d have to favor Machida. On the other hand, who has Machida beaten lately that was an elite fighter? An aging Randy Couture and overrated Ryan Bader would be it. Until someone stops Henderson I’d favor him in the fight. I just think that when people analyze Machida they are breaking down the Machida of old and not the Machida of the present.
The top UFC light heavyweight fighters are in an uproar over Chael Sonnen getting to the front of the title line. UFC president Dana White has made his message crystal clear. Accept your short notice title fight or move to the back of the line and that just isn’t fair.
White blasted Lyoto Machida, along with a few others for not taking a championship fight against Jon Jones on short notice. White’s message was clear in a recent media call. You may have earned the title shot but you can just as easily lose it if you don’t take the fight when offered, short notice or not.
“Everyone of these guys that are b*tching about a title show now, were offered the fight and turned it down. They refused to fight Jon Jones. Now they’re bummed out because Chael stepped up on eight days notice and he’s going to coach The Ultimate Fighter and fight him? I mean, it’s pretty simple. “(Jones and Sonnen) will do this,” White continued. “They’ll fight, and then we can continue to have the light heavyweight division rolling and have an absolute No. 1 contender when Jones comes back (from injury).”
UFC fighters, fans, and media are still reeling over the announcement that Chael Sonnen would go from defeated middleweight to a light heavyweight championship shot against Jon Jones. Top contenders, specifically Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida have both taken to Twitter to express their outrage over the fight.
“With all respect,but for me Chael does not deserve The title shot,I would like To know What He had done in LHW for deserve!!” – @LyotoMachidaFW
“I guess I should just quit training to win fights and to be exciting for the fans and just go to shit talking school.” – @DanHendo
If these two elite light heavyweights expected any sympathy from UFC president Dana White, they better think again. White blasted these along with other top light heavyweights for refusing to fight Jon Jones on short notice at either UFC 151 or UFC 152. The message White sent to his fighters was clear. While his fighters may have earned the fight, he could just as easily take it away if they don’t do business the UFC’s way and quite frankly, that is just not right.
Losing a title shot temporarily due to an injury is one thing. Losing it altogether because of an injury or short notice is something unique to the UFC. Dan Henderson is a prime example. Henderson will now have to wait for his title shot. To be fair, Dana White did say in a recent conference call that Henderson’s status is still up in the air. That is fine. But White has also been saying how Henderson needs to now fight Lyoto Machida to get the title shot. Champions get hurt all of the time and are rewarded with an immediate fight with the interim title shot when they return. Heck, Alistair Overeem was suspended for failing a PED test and is getting a title shot off of suspension. But for some reason Henderson has to now fight another fight to get a shot that he rightfully earned due to an injury?
Lyoto Machida was declared the number one contender by Dana White after he thrashed Ryan Bader on Fox. I had a problem with it at the time but hey, that was the declaration. Machida was then contacted and asked to take a fight with Jones on short notice for UFC 152. Having not trained at all while the champion was deep in camp Machida declined the fight. Machida was not in shape and felt that he couldn’t prepare for the short turnaround time. He was then ridiculed by White and told to go to the back of the line. In what kind of sport is this acceptable?
The Machida situation is really the problem here. Machida earned (according to the UFC) a title shot against Jones. Machida fought and trained hard for that opportunity. Being that this was his second title shot, it was all or nothing for this fight. Machida had everything to lose walking into a fight with Jones unconditioned and without a proper camp. He earned the right to a full camp. I get the machismo aspect of this in that fighters fight but this is also a business. Jones had a full camp of conditioning, Machida didn’t. The UFC didn’t have to book Jones that quickly. They could have waited. It should be up to Machida as to whether he wants the full or short camp. Penalizing him for not taking it is quite frankly unethical.
Dana boasted about how Chael Sonnen was the only one who wanted to step up and fight Jones on short notice, like he is some kind of warrior or something. Sonnen had zero to lose! He didn’t earn a title shot and was not even in line to get one (little did we know). Of course he stepped up to fight Jones. He stepped up the same way Vitor Belfort did. None of those men were risking a thing. I am sure that Brandon Vera, Stephan Bonnar, or Ken Shamrock would have as well. The big difference between those guys and Machida, Henderson, or Shogun Rua who turned down the fight is that those guys were playing with house money. The other top contenders worked hard to earn a title shot and shouldn’t be asked to blow it because the UFC needs a main-event.
Would the UFC have given Machida or Rua another title fight in the near future as thanks for taking the title shot on short notice? You know the answer to this and that is why Dana White is being a spoiled, selfish, brat with this new edict. Title shots that are earned should be respected. Sure while it’s nice to do Uncle Dana a favor, what will these fighters get for their gamble?
Nobody can accuse Jon Jones from running Chael Sonnen any longer. The UFC light heavyweight champion will not only fight Sonnen in 2013 but will coach against him on The Ultimate Fighter season 17.
“This should be a good one,” said White. “Jon has accepted the fight. He knows the fans want to see that fight.”
I can’t say I am surprised. Jon Jones recently gave an interview where he said he was interested in coaching on The Ultimate Fighter and also recently said that he’d fight Chael if that’s what the fans wanted. I actually sent out a tweet on Monday predicting this exact scenario including the TUF gig.
Dana White broke the news to the LA Times on Tuesday in a story that has a lot of MMA fans and media scratching their heads. Sonnen will go from getting thrashed by Anderson Silva in the second round to an immediate championship fight in his light heavyweight debut (well return after a lengthy absence) As entertaining as this sounds, it makes even less sense than giving Vitor Belfort a title shot. The fight will go down on April 27.
The fight comes at a very odd time for both the champion and challenger. Sonnen signed to fight Forrest Griffin in December while Jones was expected to fight either Lyoto Machida or Dan Henderson. My hunch is that this fight has a lot more to do with the abysmal The Ultimate Fighter ratings this season as opposed to championship integrity.
The big losers here are Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson. Henderson was scheduled to fight Jones at UFC 151 but had to pull out due to injury. Machida was told he was getting the next title shot after he dominated Ryan Bader on Fox. Machida declined a recent opportunity to fight Bones at UFC 152. My hunch and nobody will say it is that the UFC are still real upset with Henderson for canceling with little notice and Machida for turning down the shot with little notice.
What makes this even more complicated is that White recently announced that the upcoming UFC on Fox fight between Mauricio Shogun Rua and Alexander Gustafsson could determine a top contender. That fight is in December so that would mean that the winner would have to sit out at minimum 7-8 months for his title shot. That also means is that the earliest Machida or Henderson have at even sniffing a title shot is next fall.
There are both reasons to get excited and reasons to cry foul over the latest news. Chael Sonnen has simply talked himself into a title shot here. He may be entertaining to read on Twitter but the fact is that he just got beat by Silva and has never even fought in the division. This is hardly what I would call challenging Jon Jones. It is also another case of the UFC trying to shine up a mismatch which smart fans at the end of the day will see through and will probably take a pass.
I think it is safe to say that the UFC is more interested in business than sport. That is fine and I can’t disagree with it, but don’t claim otherwise. This fight is being made purely for business reasons. There is reason that title fights don’t sell on UFC pay per views like they used to. I love great fight-hype and Chael may be the best, but this really sets the UFC back as far as I am concerned quite a bit when it comes to sports legitimacy. At some point you have to question whether the UFC should even have titles or just go back to the Super Fight titles like the old days.
The plus of course is that this will generate tremendous interest into The Ultimate Fighter. TUF is a dying franchise, drawing just over 600,000 viewers this past week. There is certainly no guarantee that coaches will make a difference as Brock Lesnar did not have nearly the impact on TUF as some, including myself speculated he’d have. However, I have to think that Chael will play the game (unlike Brock) and deliver such compelling television week to week that fans who stopped watching awhile back will reconnect with the show.
UFC 151 is the story that just won’t go away. UFC champion Jon Jones is now starting to speak out against his critics and give his side of the story. Unfortunately the champ is doing more damage with every word that comes out of his mouth.
I won’t rehash all of the specifics of UFC 151 because if you are taking the time to read this blog, chances are good you already know what happened. Jones has been vilified by the UFC, fans, media, and fellow fighters for refusing to fight Chael Sonnen on eight days notice. Dana White blamed the cancellation of UFC 151 on Jones unwillingness to take the fight. Jon Jones disagrees.
Jones gave a fascinating interview to Ariel Helwani on MMAFighting.com. What is so fascinating to me is just how clueless Jon Jones really is. He certainly doesn’t come off as the great businessman he proclaims himself to be in this 40-plus minute interview. The irony is that while I don’t think Jones did anything wrong, I came away from this interview liking Bones less than I ever did before.
What Jones is missing in this big picture here is that people really don’t like him because they think he is phony and arrogant. That is fine if he is trying to be a pro wrestling heel, but a guy with a Nike endorsement needs people to like him. Jones compares himself at one point to LeBron James talking about the criticism James gets, but Jones is missing a key point. The NBA and MMA are two entirely different sports with different sized audiences. James can afford to be hated by 25% of the NBA audience because that leaves 75% of millions people to market to. Jon Jones doesn’t have much left to market to if 75% of the MMA audience finds him unlikable.
One point Jones makes which is very important to this whole mess is that he claims Dana White never told him that UFC 151 would be cancelled if he didn’t fight. That is a big difference maker if true. I find it hard to believe after listening to White for a week rant on Jones and Greg Jackson that this point was never conveyed to Bones. If this is true, it is really hard to blame Jones.
Jones talked quite a bit about why he turned down the fight. Quite honestly, I still don’t understand it. While I do believe that he has every right to accept and turn down fights as he pleases, he only seems to muddy the waters here with this convoluted attempt at an explanation.
“The main reason I didn’t take the fight is basically because I talked to my head coach, my muay thai coach and my boxing coach, they know my weaknesses and strengths, they know how my muscles react. Each coach said, straight away that they think I can win the fight but they ALSO said that the want me to be aware that the styles are different, They have different kinds of clinch games, different takedowns… I’m not going to go through all the details of his game because it will sound tacky to those who don’t understand fighting but to sum it up, Chael Sonnen is a southpaw, has different takedowns, different subs, different ground and pound, he’s just a completely different warrior. Taking the fight would be ignorant.“
One thing that is incredibly irritating about Jones throughout the interview is that you get the impression he is talking down to the fans. Jones repeats throughout the interview how fans don’t understand MMA and don’t understand the business of MMA. Jones at one point says he is trying to educate the fans. You don’t need to be a chef to criticize bad cooking. Telling someone they are an idiot and that he is here to enlighten them is probably not the best way to make amends with a fan base that absolutely hates you.
One of the points Jones makes is a great one, yet again his approach will only get him more heat with fans, fighters, and the UFC. When asked about other fighters criticizing him he says, “All the fighters that are insulting me on the card, I’m not the one who is saying that you’re not good enough for pay per view.”
As much as you may hate Jones, he is right. That is what I never understood in the first place. Dana White put the blame on Jones for costing fighter’s their payoffs and the UFC losing $2 million in advertising. The UFC cancelled the show! The UFC could have proceeded with the show, charged money, and taken one on the chin for the fighters on the show. The UFC chose not to proceed with the show because they presumed nobody would buy it. Why not go on with the show and offer fans a free PPV with a purchase of UFC 151? The reason the UFC cancelled the show is in essence, because the fights they booked weren’t strong enough to sell. That is not Jones’ fault. However, I probably wouldn’t have said it the same way.
One of the biggest reasons the MMA community hates Bones is because they think he is fake. The consistent preaching of religion and family has made Jones a big target. Jones however still doesn’t get it. Jones continues to preach religion in the interview and at one point says all he has ever tried to do was be a good representative for the UFC. I’d be a lot more empathetic if the man wasn’t arrested just a few months ago for totaling his Bentley drunk with two women in the car in the early hours of the morning.
The line that is really getting attention is when Jones responded to a question about how he felt about Dana’s tirade on the conference call. White blasted Jones on the call and Jones wasn’t happy.
“I felt like a piece of meat.”
I never disliked Jon Jones and I even blogged last week about how Dan Henderson was to blame for this mess, but Bones is doing himself no favors with these interviews. One of the first things a good “corporation” will do as he calls himself is hire a publicist. It’s time for Jon Jones to get one!
The UFC 151 fallout continues and it isn’t getting easier for Jon Jones. Media and fans continue to vilify Bones for not taking a new fight after Dan Henderson got hurt. Yet surprisingly nobody has pointed the finger at Hendo. Is Dan Henderson getting a free ride at the expense of the Bones Jones?
Henderson started making the media rounds on Monday, shedding a lot of light on what actually went down leading up to him pulling out of the fight. UFC president Dana White chastised Jones for almost an hour when the UFC 151 cancellation was made, giving Henderson no culpability in the debacle. Yet the more I hear from Hendo and his team, the more I am starting to wonder why Henderson has avoided any shrapnel in this explosion.
The timeline of Henderson’s injury leading up to UFC 151 has become clearer in recent days. Henderson and his coaches are claiming that Dan got hurt three weeks ago in training. Henderson’s muay thai coach Daniel Wiorin broke down the timeline in a recent interview with Fighters Only.
“Dan Henderson got hurt three weeks ago sparring when he went to defend a takedown,” Wiorin said. “He had to be away for training for two-to-three weeks. It was very difficult for him to refuse the fight. All the team had to convince him not to do it.”
“We did a final sparring to evaluate his condition and he really didn’t have the chance to fight with Jones,” Wiorin said. “It is so depressing for everybody.”
Henderson told Ariel Helwani that he kept mum on the injury, fearing that news of the injury would spread to the Jon Jones’ camp and give the champion a big target in their scheduled UFC 151 fight.
“I was very optimistic,” he said. “I was told the MCL heals real fast and should do fine. I had just under a month before the fight so I was pretty optimistic it would get better. I was told not to do anything to stretch it and make it feel unstable and it would heal up a lot faster. That’s what I was trying to do. So I could move around on my feet. As long as I was moving forward and backward, it wasn’t too bad.”
“I think it would be a decision I’d be regretting for a long time,” he said. “I felt like I need to be 100 percent going in against somebody like Jones, or close to 100 percent. And I feel like the fans would like to see me at 100 percent as well.”
Henderson then offered his own criticism of the champion for turning down the fight which resulted in the card being cancelled.
“Ultimately it was his decision not to take a fight with Chael,” he said.> “I don’t think it’s unfair that he’s been blasted like that. All I know is, that’s not the decision I would’ve made. Obviously he has his own reasons. I can’t think of any reason why I wouldn’t take a fight like that. Other than being injured, if I’m healthy, in shape and ready to fight that day, it doesn’t matter who they want me to fight. I’ll fight, especially if I’m champ.”
It’s not the decision he would have made, yet he pulled out of a fight because he felt he wouldn’t be close to 100%? Am I missing something here?
I never once thought that Dan Henderson had much responsibility in getting the show cancelled until now. Think about it for a second. Henderson injured his knee three weeks prior to the event! He chose to keep it quiet which I understand, but it was probably the most selfish decision made throughout this whole mess. What if Henderson told the UFC three weeks ago that he was hurt? What if Henderson told the UFC two weeks ago that he felt he couldn’t go? Instead, Henderson held up the entire card until the last minute, resulting in all of the chaos we all witnessed last week.
Jon Jones is continuing to get a lot of heat from fans and critics for not taking the fight on eight days notice. Yet Henderson was injured badly enough three weeks ago that he knew his fight was in jeopardy. The UFC would have had plenty of options three weeks ago as opposed to scrambling eight days out to save a show. I can understand why Henderson didn’t want the injury news out, but in turn an entire event was held hostage in the process. Shockingly he is not getting any heat for this whatsoever. What gives?
Jon Jones has turned into the biggest scapegoat in UFC history. I am not a big Jones fan, nor am I a hater like most are these days. I am just an MMA fan that can look at a situation logically without fandom clouding my judgment. You may not like Jon Jones for turning down the fight, but Jon Jones is not the fighter responsible for cancelling UFC 151.
UFC president Dana White blasted Jon Jones for refusing to fight at UFC 151. Yet a few days later I think it is fair to ask whether White’s honesty will cost Zuffa more money over the next decade than any cancelled event could ever account for?
Now that the dust has settled I think it is fair to look at the situation with a little more clarity. To recap, Dan Henderson had to pull out of his UFC 151 fight with champion Bones Jones. Jones declined the opportunity to fight Chael Sonnen as a replacement with eight days notice. Without a main-event, UFC 151 was outright cancelled, costing the company millions of dollars in paid promotion that will never be recouped. White has put the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of his champion.
White went nuts on Jones on during the press conference in which the cancellation was announced. White claimed that he has never seen a situation where a world champion has refused to step up and fight. White pondered to the media why Bones who had been training an entire camp would turn down a fight with a fighter who hasn’t trained in weeks? White criticized Jones’ business acumen and claimed their relationship would not be the same. White also blamed Jones for costing the undercard fighters their salaries which were lost when the card was cancelled. In other words, Jon Jones is a selfish coward.
MMA fans and even some members of the media flooded the Internet, blogs, and talk radio shows with anger and hatred directed at the light heavyweight champion. I listened to one show where caller after caller said they would never buy another Jon Jones fight again. I read several blogs which were flooded with comments from fans that refused to ever purchase anything featuring Jones out of principal alone. The situation got ugly fast and by the end of the day Dana White probably cost his company more money than Jon Jones or anyone else that has ever refused a fight in the UFC.
Dana White became the UFC, Zuffa, and Fox network’s worst enemy last week. By White passionately telling his fans that Jones was a coward and cost young, struggling fighters their money, he made Jon Jones arguably the most hated champion in UFC history. I can’t think of a worst business move than vilifying the man who is positioned to be the face and future of your company in such public fashion.
The UFC, FX, and anyone else invested in UFC 151 won’t get their money back. Yet in the big picture of Zuffa, the money lost will be recouped going forward with other revenue sources. Two years from now, Zuffa won’t even notice the money lost from UFC 151. However, what they will notice is a trend of disappointing buyrates featuring the public face of their company. Believe me, Dana White will be kissing Jon Jones’ butt a year from now like nothing ever happened. He may forget but the fans who passionately follow the UFC and MMA won’t forget so fast.
White’s mouth is a problem and continues to be a problem for the UFC. Sitting on Fox seconds after Cain Velasquez was knocked out and criticizing one of his biggest stars does nobody any favors. All of those nasty promos he cut on Tito Ortiz probably cost the UFC millions of dollars when they decided they wanted to start promoting Tito. The damage done last week to the company will be unprecedented going forward. When Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva retire and they have to rely on Jones, this company is screwed thanks to Dana White.
Dana White wants to sit there and blame Jon Jones for taking food out of fighter’s mouths. How about the fact that White has severely damaged potentially the biggest drawing card in the company over the next few years? Fighters will be making a lot less money if 250,000 people are buying Jon Jones’ fights as opposed to 850,000. Cancelling UFC 151 may have cost these fighters money in the short term, but over the long term Dana has cost them and their peers more money with his mouth.
The irony here is that Jones is already having problems connecting with MMA fans. Jones has been a disappointment as a draw thus far as champion, something Dana was quick to point out during the press conference. I know that some people think that the fans will forget about this after Jones puts together a few wins, but the UFC is already having problems selling their champion. If and it is a big if Jones rebounds after whatever public relations hit he takes here, he will still be a disappointing draw. It would take a miracle for Jones to become a consistent draw on the levels of GSP or Anderson Silva after last week.
Fighters like Jones come along once in a lifetime. It is easy to say they will have other stars, but history says different. You can count the number of true UFC superstars the company has ever had cross into popular culture on one hand. There is an “it” factor that is an intangible you can’t create in a gym or promotion piece. Jon Jones is one of the only fresh faces to have that “it” factor in years and the arrogance of the UFC president has marginalized that star factor quite possibly forever.
UFC 151 is cancelled and the blame for this has been placed squarely on the shoulders of the UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Bones Jones. While it is easy to vilify Jones, is the champion being used as a scapegoat by the real man responsible for this mess, Dana White?
Dana White cut a scathing promo on Jon Jones last week during a conference call announcing the cancellation of UFC 151. Jones was scheduled to fight Dan Henderson in the main-event. Henderson hurt his knee and Jones was offered Chael Sonnen as a replacement. Jones turned down the fight claiming he needed more time to prepare, the event, was cancelled, and the UFC is blaming Jones for this entire mess.
It is easy to chastise Jones for his action. MMA is a sport based on machismo. Nobody wants to look at the big picture. To the average fan watching at home, it should be simple for a fighter to get in and fight on one day, two day, two months notice, etc. After all, Royce Gracie fought multiple times in one night right?
I am not saying Jones was right or wrong for turning down what appeared to be a cake walk of a fight on paper. I do know that if the New England Patriots had the New York Jets on their schedule months earlier, prepared for the Jets, and eight days out the NFL wanted to change opponents on the Jets, Bill Belichick would do everything he can to fight that change. MMA is no different than any other sport and at the championship level, there are a lot of moving parts in preparing for a fight. Again I am not saying that Jones was right or wrong in turning down the fight. I just think there is a lot more considerations to be made when you are fighting at the highest level of a sport.
Once Jones turned down the fight the show was cancelled. Dana White has called Jones’ trainer Greg Jackson a sport killer for his influence on Bones’ decision. White also blames Jones for costing lower level fighters money and opportunity. Yet at the end of the day the decision to cancel a show should rest on the shoulders of the company president not the world champion. White is looking to deflect and has sacrificed his world champion in order to cover his own butt.
Why was it up to Jon Jones to save the show? The UFC has hundreds of fighters under contract. Why couldn’t Dana White call up Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Carlos Condit, Jose Aldo, Cain Velasquez, etc, etc to fight? Heck, Anderson Silva would have fought on the show but the guy was never even asked. Why is it up to Jon Jones to take a fight on eight days notice to save a show? Yes I know he had a full camp, but Sonnen didn’t. Do I expect any of those guys to have stepped up and taken a fight with no/little camp on eight days notice? Of course not. My point here is that once Jones said no it was easier to cancel the show and blame Jones than to have a press conference the next day and vilify 20 fighters for not wanting to take a fight on eight days notice.
Why is it up to Jon Jones to make sure the undercard fighters are paid? This is a multi-million dollar business. The UFC has plenty of money in reserves. Jon Jones didn’t cancel the show. The UFC should (and they may) make up for any expenses the fighters incurred for losing out on the show. The idea that it was up to Jon Jones to sacrifice and not the UFC in order to make sure these fighters got paid is just ludicrous!
Would the UFC promote an event from scratch on pay per view with eight days notice? Could they? They absolutely could and Jones could have taken the fight with eight days notice. But would they? Would they be able to properly advertise and promote an event on eight days notice? Would they be able to get proper media in eight days? Would they take a bath on the show? Maybe they would or maybe they wouldn’t but the idea is just as risky as Jones taking the fight on eight days on a different level.
The real problem here is the idea that Dana White is trying to pain the UFC as victims while turning their world champion who did nothing wrong into the biggest villain MMA has seen since Brock Lesnar popped the fans the middle finger. An executive with integrity would have either a) had a backup plan or b) taken full responsibility for the lifeline of the event. Maybe if they didn’t have an event practically every weekend he would have had a strong enough undercard that could have survived without Jon Jones in the main-event?
Instead the UFC will cost their company more money in the long run by using the biggest future of the star company to mask one of the biggest business blunders in professional sports history.
The Dan Henderson vs. Jon Jones fight will have to wait. A blown knee in training will sideline Dan Henderson indefinitely, leaving Jones fight-less. What is the UFC to do with a show without a main-event? Well cancel it of course.
The UFC made history today by cancelling the event outright. I can’t recall the UFC ever cancelling a big pay per view event with two week’s notice. Dana White said it was the first time in UFC history that they are cancelling an event. White confirmed that Henderson has a tear in his knee and is unavailable.
“This is one of my all-time lows as president,” White said. “For the first time in 11 years we’re going to cancel an event.”
White confirmed to reporters that Chael Sonnen accepted the fight with Jon Jones on eight days notice. White told reporters that Sonnen offered to sign for the fight immediately and the UFC started creating promotion behind the fight. White said that the one thing he never thought would happen in million years happened and that was Jon Jones turning down the fight. To say that White is aggravated with Jones would be the understatement of the year.
Jones will instead fight Lyoto Machida…obviously not at UFC 151. Jones vs. Machida has been signed for September 22 at UFC 152 which is now UFC 151. I have to give Machida a lot of credit. Taking the fight on short notice is a big risk for a guy that will probably have to wait a long time for another UFC title shot. Even though the fight is a few weeks away, it still leaves Machida without a full camp. I am surprised to say the least but I give Machida a lot of credit for taking the fight.
White indicated that Machida was unavailable to make a deal for the UFC 151 fight. White said that Machida was flying in the air when they were scrambling around to make a deal. White said that he doesn’t hold this against Machida.
White also said that Jones told him that his trainer Greg Jackson told him to absolutely not take the fight on eight days notice. White called Jackson a “f*cking sport killer.” White said that Jackson told Jones that taking the fight on eight days notice would be the biggest mistake of his life. “Greg Jackson should never be interviewed by anyone ever again unless it’s by a psychiatrist.” White mocked the idea that the camp would not have enough faith in Jones to take the fight against a guy coming up from middleweight with eight days notice. White also said during the call that Jones refused to fight anyone other than Henderson on eight days notice.
Dana White called Tito Ortiz the most difficult guy to work with in the UFC yet said that Ortiz never refused to take fights. Actually, I kind of remember him refusing to fight Chuck Liddell. Anyway, White called the decision baffling and in not so many words said that Jones was the most difficult guy to work in UFC history.
White noted that Henderson is not guaranteed a title shot when he returns. White said that Henderson would get the shot if it is available, otherwise he will have to wait. White pointed to Rashad Evans getting hurt and having to take the Phil Davis fight before getting back in the title picture. There is no timetable on Henderson’s return.
White was also asked about the UFC’s current sponsorship of Jon Jones. White said that he didn’t like it but he wasn’t sure where that relationship was at the moment. I have to think that if it were up to White that there would be no UFC sponsorship of the UFC light heavyweight championship.
I had my own business interests in the event. I was about 24 hours away from closing a deal on UFC 151 ads for the website. With the event cancelled, the deal is no longer on the table. I can only imagine how the other fighters on the show feel who have a heck of a lot more lost thanks to the cancelled event.
Dana called Chael a “lunatic”. Dana said that Chael offered to fly to Vegas tonight and fight him immediately. He said that Chael told him to tell Jones that there will be no spinning backfist in the fight. White said that the fight didn’t make sense but felt that the people wanted to see it. Dana spoke very highly of Chael and said that he would fight anyone. Dana felt that by Friday Chael Sonnen would have convinced most of us that he was going to win. In pro wrestling terms it was as if Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones did a double turn today thanks to this media call.
It would appear that the relationship between Jones and the UFC is about as rocky as they come. White didn’t hide his anger and frustration with Jones at all during the call. Quite frankly White is seeing this as Jones turning down the fight cost the UFC millions of dollars. White was asked by a reporter about how this changed his relationship with Jon Jones and White responded, “A lot!”
White sounded like he really didn’t have a lot of answers in regards to cancelling the event and everything that is involved. White mentioned several times that the company will be losing a lot of money with all of the marketing already done to promote the show. White also didn’t have many answers when it came to rescheduling the other UFC 151 fights.
The irony here is that Jones was quick to take a fight for the UFC light heavyweight championship on short notice. There is some sentiment here that Jones owed it to the UFC to take the fight or a fight in order to save the show since that gift turned Jones into a superstar. At the same time, would Dana White and the UFC really wanted to promote a pay per view event on eight days notice?
“You’re either a fighter or you’re not!” Harsh words for the world heavyweight champion. White also said when asked about what would happen if Jones turns down the Machida fight that they will be having another press conference real soon.
The UFC On Fox 4 results may have been predictable, but not all went according to plan. Four light heavyweights battled for the next UFC light heavyweight title shot with an unexpected face moving on to the title round.
UFC president Dana White took a lot of heat in recent weeks after proclaiming that the main-event between Brandon Vera and Shogun Rua would decide the next UFC light heavyweight title challenger. In the face of criticism, White opened up the competition to the semi-main event between Machida and Bader. White proclaimed that the most impressive winner of the two fights would move on to the Dan Henderson vs. Jon Jones winner. Most MMA reports indicated that the UFC were pulling for Shogun, yet it was Rua’s old foe that would get the upper hand on Saturday night.
Lyoto Machida reinvented himself on national television Saturday night. The fighter who once looked unbeatable bounced back off of his first submission loss with an impressive KO win. Machida made Ryan Bader look like an amateur for a round and a half before shutting out the lights with a deadly combination of strikes to the face.
Machida looked like the enigma he once was in the UFC. He was never in trouble and had Bader confused from the opening seconds of the fight. Machida played his classic game plan to perfection, laying and preying on his opponent until his opponent’s frustrations got the better of him. That is exactly what happened with Bader and Bader was knocked cold for the first time in his career in 1:32 of the second round.
Machida’s rival Mauricio Shogun Rua had a chance to steal the championship fight away from Machida. Rua was up next against Brandon Vera in a fight that had Vera as a +300 underdog. Most MMA analysts predicted an easy night for Rua while the UFC pulled for Rua to give them a good reason to make a Rua vs. Jones rematch. Unfortunately for Rua and the UFC, Brandon Vera never got that memo.
Vera gave Rua all he had and then some for four rounds in the main-event. Rua had Vera rocked several times, yet Vera kept coming. This was the best I have seen Vera look in years. I don’t know if Rua took him lightly or Vera was just that good, but Rua didn’t have the fire out of the gate that I would have expected. It was apparent midway through the first round that Vera didn’t come to lie down and both guys were in for an MMA war.
Rua finally finished Vera in the fourth round at 4:09. Rua’s onslaught of strikes were just too much from a resilient Vera who had nothing left. An exhausted Rua criticized his own performance after the fight. It would have been a damned close fight if it went the distance. I am not a judge and I almost comical when writers score rounds, but from my eyes I saw Vera winning two rounds, Shogun winning a round and ¾, with the fifth up for grabs if it continued.
Dana White immediately announced following the main-event that Machida would get the next crack at the UFC light heavyweight title. White said that Machida was most impressive and has been obsessed with fighting Jones again. Jon Jones is scheduled to defend the UFC light heavyweight title in September against Dan Henderson. I would guess that January or February would see Machida’s title fight barring an immediate rematch between Hendo and Bones.
There was an immediate outcry on Twitter to make a Rua vs. Machida trilogy with the winner getting Bones. I hate that idea. I don’t see why you would reward Shogun for struggling with a fighter he was supposed to handily defeat while punishing Machida for doing exactly what he was asked to do. Now if Machida loses his title fight, I don’t see a problem with going with Rua vs. Machida 3. Dana White made it as crystal clear as possible. The winner who wins most convincingly gets a title shot. Rua won a war while Machida barely broke a sweat. Those were the stakes and Shogun blew it.
Dana also mentioned something real intriguing following the fight about Rua’s desire to get another title shot. White mentioned that Rua didn’t seem nearly as interested in fighting Bones as Machida is. “‘Shogun’ has not been terrorizing me for another shot at Jon Jones,” White told MMAjunkie.com. “Lyoto Machida has. Lyoto Machida wants it.”
It is funny White said that because I thought the same thing after hearing some of Shogun’s comments in recent interviews. One reporter asked Shogun at the press conference last week about coaching The Ultimate Fighter against Machida in Brazil if he won as opposed to fighting Jones. I thought it was a dumb question until Rua said he was open to the idea. Wow! The fact that he was remotely interested as opposed to fighting for the title was shocking to me. In another interview Rua said that while he wants to fight Jones, he sounded more interested in fighting Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva. It appears that White got the same message, as opposed to Machida who only has eyes for the light heavyweight title.
Selling Machida vs. Bones 2 is going to be tough as a standalone pay per view headliner. Joe Rogan couldn’t stop talking about how Machida is the only guy to win a round against Bones. That is fine if they are fighting to get into The Ultimate Fighter, but he also got dominated in the following round and lost to a standing choke. I am certainly intrigued by the rematch, but it wouldn’t shock me to either co-headline a pay per view or headline a free show on Fox in 2013.
The biggest winner may have been Brandon Vera. Most perceived Vera as a joke going into the fight on Saturday night. Vera walked away with the respect of every viewer watching the show and most importantly, job security. Don’t be surprised to see Vera headline another show on free television. The big difference in that fight will be fans excited to see Vera fight on free TV as opposed to the reaction his name received this go-around.
In what can only be described as a shameful effort to promote the upcoming UFC on Fox 4 broadcast, Dana White confirmed one of the most shocking MMA rumors of last week. The winner of Shogun Rua vs. Brandon Vera will indeed get the next UFC light heavyweight title shot.
I blogged a bit on this last week but I continue to be dumbfounded by the statement. The UFC president first broke the news last week to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports. White reaffirmed the news Monday on the UFC on Fox 4 conference call only confirming that the most powerful man in Mixed Martial-Arts has truly lost his mind.
I don’t know where to begin other than the obvious. I have no idea with a straight face who White can promote either Rua or Vera with a win as the next championship challenger. For a guy that has taken plenty of potshots at boxing and rival MMA companies for their weak matchmaking, White has really stuck his foot in his mouth with this one. Even the UFC light heavyweight champion is scratching his head…literally.
“Scratching my head “@FightCoveMike: @JonnyBones The winner of Shogun vs. Vera is guaranteed #1 contender at 205.” – @JonnyBones
The only thing that I can speculate at this point is that this whole declaration is a ruse. It isn’t as if White has declared number one contenders in the past, only to change his mind days, weeks, or even hours later. The only difference here is that this announcement is so preposterous, that the entire MMA world has their eyes on this story. For White to say something like this and then completely back off of it would make him look even more foolish at this point.
One thing we can all agree on is that the UFC light heavyweight division is in limbo. The division has often been recognized in the past as the most competitive. Today, it is a division with one leader miles ahead of the pack. There is no real clear cut number one contender in the division. I am not a Ryan Bader fan at all, but at this point I think he is the only one barely deserving of a title shot should he defeat Lyoto Machida on the same UFC on Fox 4 event.
Somewhere in a closed office I have to believe that Dana White is just having a big laugh at this big practical joke he is pulling on the MMA media. I mean he can’t be serious can he? How absurd would it be to see Brandon Vera get a title shot when quite honestly, Vera wouldn’t even be in the UFC right now if not for Thiago Silva’s failed PED test. Promoting Shogun would not be nearly as absurd, yet it would be ridiculous in its own right. A loss to Dan Henderson and a win over Brandon Vera suddenly earns a fighter a championship fight? I am not saying I don’t want to see a Jones vs. Rua rematch because I do. I just think that Rua needs at least one more win other than a victory of Vera to get it.
I have seen a lot of tweets talking about Alexander Gustafsson in regards to the next title shot. Gustafsson’s win over Silva was fantastic, but should that earn him a title shot? I think like Rua, Gustafsson needs at least one if not two more wins to get to the championship fight. I can’t imagine anyone being upset with Rua vs. Gustafsson in a number one contender’s fight should Rua defeat Vera as expected.
Of course the punchline to this bad joke could be Dan Henderson winning. Henderson winning would immediately open up the door to promote a Jones vs. Henderson rematch, giving Dana a free pass at his mistimed matchmaking. Unfortunately for the UFC that is a lot to ask for.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is one win away from cleaning out the top five contenders in just a year and a half. A win over Henderson opens up the division, yet leaves no real contenders at the top of the heap. Dana White plans to change that with the UFC on FOX 4 event.
White told Fox Sports Alex Marvez that the UFC on Fox 4 fight card will most likely determine the next challenger for the UFC light heavyweight champion. There are two “marquee” light heavyweight fights on the show featuring two former champions. According to the boss, the winner of the main-event would get the title shot unless the win was “unimpressive.” In that case the UFC would look to the co-headliner for its next challenger.
“These fighters have a huge opportunity to show the world why they deserve to fight for the UFC title next,” White told FOX Sports in an email statement. “Winning isn’t enough at UFC on FOX. This division is so competitive these fighters have to look great to separate themselves from the pack.
Let’s look past the rhetoric for a second and try and grasp at what White is saying here. In other words, Brandon Vera or Ryan Bader could be in line for the next title shot? Lyoto Machida and Shogun Rua could be in line for the next title shot? One thing all four of these guys have in common is that they already fought Jones and the other is that he dominated all of them.
Just the idea that Dana White would even hint that Brandon Vera could get a title shot with a win over Shogun Rua is almost as big of a joke as the idea that Ryan Bader could get a shot. But let’s look at Brandon Vera for a second. Vera is 1-2-1 in his last four fights. The only reason he is even back in the UFC is because Thiago Silva failed a PED test. Even if Vera gets a lucky punch against Rua there is absolutely no way that the man should get a title shot unless the UFC wants to lose all credibility with their championship. Vera was also destroyed by Jones in one round.
Lyoto Machida is a former UFC light heavyweight champion who has struggled mightily since losing the title to Shogun. Machida is 1-3 in his last four fights, his last being a submission loss to Jon Jones. I like Machida but he hasn’t been the killer he used to be for quite some time. The idea that Machida would get another title shot with 1 win lacks any credibility whatsoever to the sport. I know that there is this fantasy that Machida could defeat Jones but I need more than one win over Ryan Bader to convince me of that.
I have wanted to see a Shogun vs. Jones rematch for some time now. I am convinced that a second fight would be much different than the first. Shogun was hurt and obviously out of shape for the fight. A healthy Shogun would probably still lose but I think it’d be a much different fight. Unfortunately Shogun has blown every opportunity he has had to get back to Jones. The man is 2-3 in his last five fights, going 1-1 since losing to Jones. A win over Brandon Vera should earn nobody a title shot in the UFC, no matter how much I want to see the fight.
Ryan Bader is 2-2 in his last four fights, on a two-fight winning streak. Of all four fighters, Bader probably has the best case you could make for a title shot off of a win. A win here would mark three in a row for The Ultimate Fighter. I just can’t buy Bader as a serious challenger to anyone. He did take Jones into the second round, but Jones dominated him for the fight. I think he needs to beat Shogun, Henderson/Jones loser, or Rashad to make me a believer or anyone else you expect to pay $50 to watch him fight Jones.
Dana White has completely lost his mind if he thinks any of these guys are worthy of a title shot or this is all just one big desperate attempt to grab viewers for the big event. Regardless, I don’t think it will make a difference to anyone.