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.
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.
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.
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