Greg Jackson didn’t think Jon Jones should accept a short-notice bout against Chael Sonnen, and the trainer hasn’t changed his view despite strong criticism from UFC President Dana White.
“When it was brought to me, it was a question of, ‘Do you think we should fight Chael Sonnen on basically three days’ notice?’ The fight week doesn’t count,” Jackson told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Jordan Breen Show.” “It’s not eight days’ notice. You’re not training and preparing for somebody on that week. You’re cutting weight and doing the media and basically not training at all. You get like 15 minutes. So that was the question that was asked -- ‘Should we fight somebody at Sonnen’s level with three days’ notice? -- and as a trainer I thought absolutely not. I didn’t know that like an entire card was in the balance or anything like that. [Jones] came to me as a trainer and asked me a question, and I advised Jon and I stand by that.”
Jones had been scheduled to fight Dan Henderson on Sept. 1 in the UFC 151 main event. However, Henderson suffered a partial MCL tear. Sonnen, a training partner, agreed to replace him, but Jones declined the bout and the UFC cancelled the event. White blamed Jackson for Jones’ decision, calling the trainer a “sport killer” and adding that he shouldn’t be interviewed by anyone other than a psychiatrist.
“I was asked an opinion,” Jackson said. “I gave it. I gave my advice. I still think that it’s a valid opinion. Again, I’m not a promoter, so I don’t have to deal with the things [White] deals with. I guess part of that is, he’s in his world and I’m kind of in my world. Our worlds are very much the same. We do do a lot of fights in his organization, but he comes at it from he’s got a lot of people to take care of. … He’s also a very passionate guy. I come at it from I want my guys to win as quickly as possible and I want them to be smart in there and treat it as a sport. I guess that the conflict comes there. We just have different personality types. I’m no good at talking bad about people. I never really have been.”
Jackson said he didn’t know the event would be cancelled if Jones declined to fight Sonnen, but that he still stood by his opinion.
“[Sonnen] knows what he’s doing, and obviously he’s been training with Dan Henderson, so he’s been right there in the entire camp helping him get ready for Jones,” Jackson said. “I know he’s in good shape, and it just didn’t seem to me like a smart thing to do on three days’ notice, to fight somebody of that caliber. I feel that it’s a professional sport and it’s the world championship. Fighting somebody on three days’ notice is not something Jon needs to do. That was my opinion, and it still is today. I won’t change it or turn it around. There’s a lot of people that think Jon could blow Chael out of the water, and maybe he could, but preparing for somebody for a world title on three days’ notice, for me, is not something that’s wise.”
Getting on White’s bad side might not be wise either, but Jackson is hoping there won’t be any repercussions for him or his camp because he gave Jones honest advice.
“I gave my two cents,” he said. “I gave my opinion. If Dana hates me because of that, then there’s nothing I can do about it. I certainly hope he doesn’t punish other people because that’s the way I feel about it. I think he’s a better guy than that, but I have no idea. At this point I’m a little taken aback by the whole thing.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 2:47).