The UFCâs âBonesâ Jones dilemmaÂ - Zach Davis (AssaultMMA part of the Ball Hogs Radio Network)
Yesterday afternoon, Dana White announced what was a low point for him and the UFC.Â Dan Henderson was injured and out of the main event.Â The champion, Jon Jones had refused any replacement opponents (Chael Sonnen was first in line).Â The UFC would be cancelling their Mandalay Bay event, UFC 151, with 8 days notice.Â There would be no pay-per-view, no undercard, no refunds for fans flying out and booking hotels, no fighter paychecks and a lot of angry fans.
For a business trying its best to gets its feet Â and establish itself with the likes of the NBA and MLB this was a worst case scenario.Â There is a lot of blame to go around and it looks like Jon Jones will take the brunt of it.Â He deserves his fair share but there is plenty to go around.
[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”600”] Dana Relaying the Bad News[/caption]
Now first off, I donât think Bones is scared of Chael Sonnen, he just canât see the forest through the trees.Â Any fighter that regularly steps into the octagon is past fearing his opponents. The problem is Jonesâ actions are short sighted and selfish.Â The UFC is a business that has allowed him to blossom into one of the brightest young stars in the sport and he is reaping the benefits.Â He has a lucrative Nike sponsorship, an industry first, and drives around in a Bentley (or at least used to).Â The company was in a tight spot and he refused to bend.Â The UFC was able to scramble and find suitable replacements.Â In the end they offered up Chael Sonnen, surely he would boost the PPV sales and the show would go on.Â But Jones would not budge.
He felt that 8 days was not enough time to prepare.Â Never mind the fact that he had been training months for a heavier, more accomplished Team Quest wrestler, in Dan Henderson.Â This isnât swapping a Munoz for a Bisping.Â That is coupled with the fact that Sonnen was training for Forrest Griffin, who while tough is not exactly a carbon copy of Jon Jones.Â In the end, Jones wouldnât risk his own âlegacyâ to face an inferior opponent to save a card that his company, fans and fellow fighters were depending on.
- Jeff Houghland:Â @JonnyBonesÂ Can I at least get one of your new Nike T-shirts? Iâll give it to my kid since I wonât have any money for her school clothes.
- Charlie Brenneman:Â @JonnyBonesÂ u can send my check to PO box 198. EH NJ. Rent is due the first, so preferably by then. Thanks.Â @ufc
With that said, is it really Jones fault the UFC had backed itself into a corner.Â Remember, Jones has been one of the biggest draws and fought four times in 2011.Â He was the one who bailed the UFC out on short notice when Rashad Evans pulled out (of course thatâs another can of worms.)Â We can scapegoat Jones all we want but it is the UFCâs responsibility to run the show.Â If one fighter is not with the program the show must go on (see Tito Ortiz circa 2004).Â The real culprit is the UFC diluting its cards to fulfill its ever increasing commitments.Â With the new Fox deal they are now responsible for filling 34 events in 2012 up from 24 in 2010.Â Yes, all the additional fights are a treat for UFC fans but something has changed.Â The UFCâs supporting cards, which used to be a key differentiator from boxing, have drastically weakened.Â What used to be a thrilling lead-in fight is now being sold as a mediocre main event.Â This has diluted the product but it hasnât hit hard until yesterday.Â For the first time in company history the UFC had to cancel a week out.Â There was not a strong enough undercard to justify maintaining the event, all other decent pay per view draws were booked and their champion wasnât willing to compromise.Â Â The UFC had spread itself too thin.
It is easy to point the finger at Jon Jones and a real company man would have stepped up in the UFCâs time of need.Â However, this is the fight business and leaning so hard on one individual is a risky endeavor.Â The UFC should have been more conservative in their rapid expansion.Â Now theyâve run out of tricks up their sleeve.Â They have a right to be angry with Jones but itâs their own irresponsible business practices that have put them in this position.
Jones will have to deal with the backlash from fans, fighters and the UFC brass
In the end the UFC has fallen flat on its face out in Vegas.Â They are embarrassed and have thrown their champion under the bus.Â Despite it being deserved, the UFC will still need to market him in the future.Â Turning the entire fanbase against him isnât exactly a prudent business decision.Â The biggest loser here is Jones.Â He is in the infancy of a legendary career but will always be remembered for leaving his fans hanging and sticking the UFC with the bill.Â He has struggled to connect with fans and this damage may be irreparable.Â Somehow, Chael Sonnen ended up on top, winning, even when he doesnât fight.