(Jon Jones is now the UFC’s public enemy #1. Does that mean we can come out of hiding now? / Photo via MMAJunkie)
The rumors were true — and even worse than we thought. Due to a knee injury suffered in training, Dan Henderson has been forced to withdraw from his scheduled light-heavyweight title fight against Jon Jones at UFC 151, and because the UFC couldn’t find a suitable main event replacement, the UFC is canceling an event for the first time in the Zuffa era. Dana White confirmed the news in a press conference held earlier today — describing the cancellation as “probably one of my all-time lows as being president of the UFC” — and he made no attempt to hide his heated emotions during the call. Here are the brass tacks…
- Henderson suffered a partial tear in his MCL during training, which was serious enough to keep him from competing.
- According to Dana White, Chael Sonnen immediately jumped up to take the fight (“I’ll fly to Vegas tonight and fight him,” White quoted Sonnen as saying), and the UFC immediately began preparing behind-the-scenes to promote Jones vs. Sonnen on eight days’ notice. But Jon Jones turned down the matchup, refusing to fight Sonnen on short notice.
- White is extremely upset that Jones, a UFC champion and pound-for-pound candidate, would turn down a fight that would save an event. Even Tito Ortiz never pulled this shit, he pointed out. White lambasted the idea that Jones would turn this fight down for business reasons. “If he was a businessman, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now,” he said. White agreed that his relationship with Jones would change “a lot” after this: “Me and Lorenzo are both disgusted.” Later in the call, White pointed out how Jones turning down the fight now screws all the supporting-card fighters out of paychecks.
- White saved additional venom for trainer Greg Jackson, who reportedly told Jones, “There’s no way you take this fight on eight days notice, it would be the biggest mistake of your entire career.” Said White: “How much faith do you have in your champion and your guy? [Jackson] is a fucking sport killer. This guy’s from another planet….Greg Jackson should never be interviewed by anybody ever again, except by a psychiatrist.”
- Though Lyoto Machida was considered for a replacement opponent for Jones, Machida was flying back to Brazil when all this went down, and it simply wasn’t possible from a timing perspective. “I can accept why Machida didn’t take the fight,” White said.
Now, Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida is scheduled for UFC 152 (September 22nd, Toronto). Or actually, UFC 151, since UFC 151 never happened. (Thanks to Ariel Helwani for that important clarification.) “I can tell you right now, [Jones] ain’t turning down the Machida fight. If he does, we’re gonna have another conference call this afternoon.” [*cue spooky music*] Update: Actually, Machida turned down the Jones fight. How delightfully ironic! Now, Jones will face Vitor Belfort, of all people, at UFC 152, which is still being called UFC 152.
- There wasn’t enough time to consider other options like putting the PPV on free TV. Dana White disagreed with the suggestion that the event would still go on if it had a stronger co-main event.
- Our suggestion of having Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg step in to headline the card with a 140-pound superfight was politely ignored.
Jesus, what a fiasco. We’ll update you when we get Jones’s reaction to this mess.