UFC 151 Cancelled: Jon Jones Doesn’t Regret Declining Short-Notice Fight

September 4, 2012
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Jon Jones UFC 145UFC 151, which was slated for Las Vegas over the recent Labor Day weekend, was set to feature light heavyweight champion Jon Jones putting his belt on the line against Dan Henderson.

It’s well known that UFC 151 was cancelled just one week prior to its scheduled date.

In the midst of the cancellation, there has been a lot of finger pointing and mudslinging, much of it aimed squarely at Jones. Be that as it may, he isn’t backing down from his decision.

“I don’t regret my decision at all,” Jones said on a recent edition of The MMA (After) Hour on MMAFighting.com; his first full interview since the UFC 151 cancellation. “I actually think it was a really smart personal career decision.”

Most of the anger cast upon Jones stems from the decision he defended in the interview. It was the decision not to accept a fight with one of the only men who said he would step up and fight Jones just eight days out from the event, Chael Sonnen.

People have criticized Jones for everything from being afraid to fight Sonnen to being selfish about his paycheck, but he’s not backing down, although he did try to put his decision in perspective.

“I talked to my coaches about (fighting Sonnen), right away,” Jones explained. “So here I am with a staff of coaches that knows my game, in and out. Each coach said to me, right away, no doubt, we can win this fight. But they also said, I want you to be aware of the fact that you prepared for a complete opposite style.”

Jones pointed out Henderson’s penchant for the right hand, a differing clinch style, and several other details, noting that Sonnen is quite different, being a southpaw, having a different takedown style, employing different submissions and the like.

“He’s just a completely different warrior,” said Jones. “I think it would be extremely arrogant on my part to take the fight, to assume that I could beat one of the top five, top 10 fighters on the planet without preparing for him whatsoever.”

In all of Jones’ comments, preparation is the key theme that threads through the conversation. Preparation is what Jones believes makes him the champion he is. While many people talk about a fighter’s athleticism or his incredible skills or his innate sense of being a fighter, Jones believes his success is founded on a good, old-fashioned work ethic.

“The reason why I’m so good at fighting is not because I’m this freak athlete with two brothers in the NFL and I’m just that great at fighting; my secret to success is being so prepared. I train five times a day – I really doubt that other light heavyweights train five times a day – and I study every night. Why would I go against everything I stand for and take a last-minute fight?”

Obviously, Jones believes that a lack of preparation for a particular opponent – not just a fight in and of itself – is not part and parcel to how he works as a fighter, and he wasn’t ready to jeopardize his career by denying what got him to where he is.

After declining to face Sonnen at UFC 151, Jones agreed to compete at UFC 152 on Sept. 22, showing that, given some time to prepare, he would fight. He originally agreed to fight Lyoto Machida in Toronto, but Machida declined the fight, citing the lack of time for a proper training camp. Jones instead landed in a bout with Vitor Belfort.

“I fought four times in 10 months. I did every media tour I had to do. At times I didn’t know if I was going to win this fight because I was doing so much media for the UFC. I do tons of things I don’t get paid for, just to try to be a company guy. But put my livelihood on the line; you can’t ask me to do that. That’s way too much to lose,” Jones explained.

“Now I’m just hated because I did what was right for me and my future?

“I just thought I meant a lot to the UFC and they made me feel like a piece of meat, a total piece of meat.”

That doesn’t mean that his relationship with the UFC, or company president Dana White, in particular, is beyond repair.

Jones hasn’t spoken with his boss since the UFC 151 cancellation announcement, but he believes that once everything gets put back in perspective – with the assistance of time – there will be some awkward moments, but that everything will get back on track.

“At the end of the day, Dan Henderson got hurt. That’s what happened. I was ready. Two weeks ago, everything was going perfect and then now, I’m the bad guy. What did I do, really? I didn’t get hurt. I didn’t cancel the fight.

“At the end of the day, all I really got to do is beat Vitor Belfort.”

Stay tuned for more UFC 151 Cancellation fallout.

  • b-soc

    Again, he did what many other fighters have done….turn down fights….only this time, the UFC decided to cancel the entire card as a result. You fight four times in 10 months, you’ve proven yourself to the fans, whether they hate on you or not.

  • bajafox

    The fact of the matter remains, he turned down a fight against someone he was supposed to annihilate.

    If he really thinks this was a good career decision wait until you see future PPV numbers, I know one thing is for sure, I won’t be included in them for any of his future fights.

    • atmosphere

      i highly doubt many people will NOT purchase PPVs because of this.

      fans will still tune in to be entertained by fights rather than to support (or not support) fighters who get paychecks from PPV figures.

      • bajafox

        I agree with your statement that fans tune in for the entertainment part of it.

        But since I earn my money the hard way, by working, I can make sure that none of it ever goes to this douche again.

        My only disclaimer is if Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz or Cain Velasquez is on the card, lol

  • markrenton

    Please stop posting articles about Jones and UFC 151, the horse has been beat to death.

    Did Sonnen earn the right to fight Jones, NO. Did Jones have the ability to save an entire PPV card by fighting someone he would destroy, YES. Is there anything anyone can do about it now, NO.

    Let it go

    • MikeMc1983

      Sorry you feel that way. I was hoping to see more articles about 151.
      Actually, someone from mmaweekly should go find out whether Brock Lesnar would have taken the fight if he were jones. That’s the kind of news we’d all like to know.

  • diazfan209

    This interview is exactly what bothers me about Jon Jones:

    he thinks he has haters, but most of the ‘haters’ are all just disappointed fans that are legitimately annoyed by his choice to avoid a replacement bout – most fight fans (that I know of) appreciate champions that are true warriors and not guys that won’t take a fight unless they watch tape for months beforehand

    he feels the need to talk Ariel Helwani’s ear off to defend who he is and his choices, but he shouldn’t have to, it just makes him look desperate to keep the ufc fans on his side

  • MMA Fans Take to Twitter: WE F–KING GET IT ALREADY

  • Maine2Alaska

    yeah just to spite him maybe i’ll watch the fights for free online the day after.. i cant stand this pre madonna. and if anyone thinks likee me, it will take a toll on the PPv sales. I hope Belfort lands a hard left hand, lays him out, whilebones is dazed, Bruce Buffer says “FINISH HIM!” then belfort jumps on him and breaks both of his arms. jumps up and says “weee deeeedit mama!”

    • soboc1

      did you memorize that, or cut in paste?

  • insane187288

    The fact is the light heavyweight champion turned down a fight. The champion is supposed to be the best so he should be prepared for everything. Doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t deserve a shot the champion should be the best at hisgame.

  • Brass Monkey

    Maybe if Jon Jones and fighters stopped talking about it, then they would. They only report the news.

  • this guy wasted my money for airfair

    • MikeMc1983

      From my point of view you guys wasted your money on airfare for this guy.
      Vegas as a whole would be more entertaining than sitting through a jones fight anyhow.
      I’m only half serious. I went to 148, had it canceled I’d have been upset as well. Sorry it happened to you, and the others.

  • diazfan209

    In the interview Jon Jones says (about Chael Sonnen), “Why would I put a world championship on the line against a very dangerous opponent” and then later says, “Why would I accept a fight against someone who doesn’t deserve to get beat by me”. And then he says, “I refuse to be anyone’s jackpot” and that’s exactly the situation for Vitor Belfort, yet he is “honored to fight Vitor”.

    He acts as if the 151 card could have went on without him & it didn’t live and die with his decision to refuse a replacement bout, but the fact is the card was a light heavyweight championship card & anything less than that would not be worthy of a PPV purchase for fans.

    It isn’t about who Jon Jones is or his choices as an athlete, it’s about him not knowing how to accept that his choices and contradictory public statements make him look like a deceptive person & that fans really don’t like to be deceived by the icons that they look up to.

  • mike


  • Whos tired of jon jones stupid face. If I hear him or jackson call it short notice one more time im going to snap. It was short notice for chael because he wasnt training. Bonesy was fully trained for an opponent that was better in every area in hendo, but he needed time for strategy ): In my humble opinion some extra willingness to fight should come with holding the belt. With great power comes great responsibility. Franky edgar exemplifies the attitude im referring to.