Yesterday, many MMA fight fans woke up to the disappointing news that UFC 151, scheduled to take place September 1st in Las Vegas, Nevada, had been cancelled as result of a knee injury sustained by light heavyweight challenger Dan Henderson.
Henderson, known to MMA fans as "Hendo," was set to fight popular UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones in the main event.
After an apparent exhaustive effort to find a 'name' replacement on eight days notice for "Hendo," only one fighter PPV worthy fighter agreed to fight Jones - former middleweight contender Chael Sonnen.
Behind the scenes, both parties, Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, purportedly agreed to face one another initially before champion Jon Jones apparently changed his mind after consulting with his head trainer Greg Jackson.
As a result of the withdrawal of both main event fighters, UFC was forced to scrap the entire card and postpone all scheduled bouts. This, according to UFC President Dana White, was the first time in the history of the organization that an entire event was cancelled.
Courtesy of Sherdog
Furious, Dana White made it official Thursday afternoon in an emergency press conference. He appeared very upset Jones turned down the fight and criticized head trainer Greg Jackson for being a "sport wrecker." Jackson has been criticized in the past for being over-protective of his fighters.
However, in response to Dana White's claims, Jackson stated, "I really like Dana and respect him...there is no ill feelings. I'm more confused than anything else."
The trainer added, "It's a serious fight with serious ramifications. I don't think I need to reach out to Dana. I didn't mean to cancel an event and was asked to give an opinion and I gave it. We all got together and are on the same sheet of music. These guys are professional promoters and that's what they do."
"I didn't know they had it all riding on one fight. It's one of those things...as a trainer. I'll give you my opinion. I'm not a yes man...I do what's best for my guy. I'm surprised by the veracity of his response but that's my opinion."
Many UFC fans were critical of the organization's attempt to replace Henderson with Sonnen, citing the latter wasn't worthy of a light heavyweight title shot. Sonnen's middleweight status and the fact he lost his most recent bout, a second round stoppage to Anderson Silva last month, fueled that notion. However, according to UFC brass, Sonnen was the only 'name' opponent who would accept an encounter with Jon Jones on such short notice.
On Sportscenter earlier this afternoon, Sonnen called Jones "a spoiled brat," and claimed Henderson was doing everything in his power to fight on just one leg while Jones wasn't willing willing to fight healthy.
Sonnen also reminded viewers that fighters on the scheduled UFC 151 undercard, most of which are low to mid tier income, would not be able to receive much-needed paychecks due to Jones' decision.
UFC Middleweight Contender Michael Bisping, perhaps insinuating Jones is a fight diva, reminded fans he accepted a fight with Chael Sonnen on short notice and stated, "Jones said he's not fighting Chael on 8 days notice. I did. .... Just sayin' ."
Now that the event has been cancelled, Jones is set to face Vitor Belfort on September 22, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. Its not yet been announced if all of the previously scheduled UFC 151 undercard bouts will still take place at that time or later in the year.
Are Jackson and Jones justifiable in withdrawing? After all, they had prepared to face Dan Henderson not Sonnen.
Or is it Jones' duty, as a UFC Champion, to oblige the organization and defend his title against a late replacement in the organization's time of need?
Controversy, cancellations and accusations.... It's not just boxing!
Jones image above courtesy of Sherdog
Sonnen image above courtesy of Sherdog