No matter what you think of Jon Jones’ decision not to fight Chael Sonnen on late notice, how crazy is it that Dana White went off like he did? The UFC publicly saying that Jones and Greg Jackson “robbed” fighters is hard to grasp when Jones is arguably the most important fighter in MMA now. And you have White pumping up Chael Sonnen, who appears on Sportscenter to destroy the champion. Why is the UFC trying to kill its own cash cow? -- Russ from El Paso
Brian Knapp, features editor: Count me among those who believe Jones should have accepted a short-notice fight with Sonnen. There was very little risk involved, Sonnen’s mouth would have pushed pay-per-view buys and Jones would have come out on the other side looking far better than he does at the moment. His decision has only served to enhance the perception, true or untrue, that success has gone to his head.
As champion, however, he deserves the right to approve or shoot down potential opponents when a short-notice situation arises. There is too much at stake, financially and professionally, with the way the sport has developed.
Every fighter is different and, as such, every fighter will handle a given situation differently. That does not make Jones any more or less of a man. He had trained to fight Dan Henderson, not Sonnen. In the end, he made the decision to bypass a potential opponent who has not fought at 205 pounds in years, a potential opponent who finds himself at the forefront of the testosterone replacement therapy debate and a potential opponent who has done nothing, outside of running his mouth, to warrant a title shot.
Was anyone surprised by how White lashed out? When things do not proceed according to his desires, he flies off the handle. We have seen it over and over and over again. Roger Goodell, David Stern and Bud Selig he is not. White deals with his business in his own unique way. Sometimes it is good for the UFC and MMA; other times it is not. I imagine Lorenzo Fertitta and the others who fly the Zuffa flag have made peace with it.
By not having a suitable co-main event to move into the spot vacated by the original headliner, the UFC left itself open to this kind of scenario. Worse yet, in the aftermath of the cancellation, the promotion did not conduct itself with the kind of professionalism we have come to expect from those who run our professional sports leagues. That only feeds into the caricature those in the mainstream have created for MMA. Some feelings and words are better left kept behind closed doors and pursed lips.
Still, it all boils down to this: the fault for the UFC 151 fiasco ultimately lies not with Jones and Jackson but with the promotion, which has not adjusted well since the landmark deal with Fox created an unprecedented demand for its product. Perhaps UFC 151 will spur the promotion to take a much harder look at the direction it is taking and the adjustments that obviously need to be made.
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