When UFC president Dana White made the call to cancel UFC 151 two weeks ago, his vitriol was fired squarely at light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who had just declined a short-notice fight with Chael Sonnen.
“This is one of those selfish, disgusting decisions that doesn’t just affect you, you just affected 16 other family’s lives,” exclaimed White, referencing the effect he felt Jones’ decision had on the other fighters that had bouts scheduled on the UFC 151 fight card.
“I don’t think this is a decision that’s going to make Jon Jones popular with the fans, sponsors, cable distributors, television network executives, or other fighters.”
While he didn’t retract anything he’s said over the past couple of weeks or in the initial announcement to the media, White’s tone had definitely come down a few notches. His outlook reflected much more understanding now that the smoke has cleared from deciding to pull the plug on an event for the first time.
“Jon and I haven’t talked since the incident. Do I hate Jon Jones or have any animosity towards him right now? I don’t,” White stated. “As we move along in our relationship, we’ll find out where we’re at.
“Jon Jones is a young guy. Has he made some bad choices and some bad decisions? Yeah. Who doesn’t when they are his age? When you’re in your early 20s, it’s hard to keep the wheels on the bus when all the fame and the money and everything starts hitting. I give Jon Jones a lot of slack when it comes to that. The guy is young.”
Though he has “no regrets” in cancelling UFC 151, White was obviously not at all happy about it. The sting is still there, dulled, but there. Still, he’s not going to bury one of his top stars because of it.
“I’m never going to tell you because Jon Jones didn’t fight in 151, he’s terrible and he’s horrible and he’s not a great fighter. He is, he’s a great fighter. He’s a phenomenal fighter,” he stated.
“I’ve dealt with the baddest dudes in the world now for the last 12 years, and that’s what I like doing. I like fighters. I like how they think. Are they a little hard to deal with here and there? Absolutely, but it’s part of the game.”