After UFC 151 was cancelled, MMA fans, pundits, critics and fighters erupted. A lot of the blame was solely placed on light heavyweight champion Jon Jones for not taking a replacement fighter in Chael Sonnen when Dan Henderson took himself out with a MCL injury.
Dana White, the president of the UFC even went on full blast blaming Jones for the cancellation of the event.
But as hated as Jones is now, he did not sit back and take all of the heat.
In the Montreal Gazette, Jones states:
“I had to do what’s right for myself by turning down that fight, Dana had to do what was right for himself by putting the blame on everyone else except for himself,” Jones said by phone Wednesday. “The lesson to be learned is, at the end of the day, you have to protect yourself and your family.”
“I think in the future, this can make me and Dana even better off,” Jones said. “For him to get out how he felt about me in that situation, it will help me look at things more business-oriented. A lot of good can come out of it. Fighters can learn the lesson of doing what’s best for themselves and not feeling like puppets. I think the UFC has learned a lesson of making sure they stay loyal to the fans and give them full cards.”
In a sense, Jones is correct. Dan Henderson was fully aware that he had a knee injury two or more weeks prior to the event. If he would’ve notified the UFC right away, things might have played out differently. The UFC also placed Jones in a position that was his out of control. How in the world do you put together an event with many fighters on the card and one fight that will carry the event. What would have happened if it was Jones who got injured? What if it was both Henderson and Jones? Who does Zuffa, UFC and then Dana White blame then?
The sport of MMA is roughly only twenty years old. But in the end, it is a business. As it progresses and organizations such as the UFC become a mainstream sport, the level of professionalism will have to evolve along with it. Dana White’s blame game and back and forthness just won’t cut it in the future. More fighters will be represented and have a team of lawyers. Fans (hopefully) will be much more educated and will see through some of the “WWE” tactis that seem to have been going on in the UFC within recent years.
Jon Jones will now be facing Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 on September 22, 2012 at the Air Canda Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.