The UFC 151 fight card has been canceled, as the whole global fight community already knows. And the fall guy is one Jon "Bones" Jones, who just a year ago was every fan's favorite fighter, and is still regarded as perhaps the best pound for pound mixed martial artist on the planet.
When Dan Henderson suffered an MCL injury, he was forced to withdraw from the main event against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Jones then turned down a replacement opponent, in the form of Chael Sonnen, and with no big name bout to top off the event, Dana White pulled the plug on the entire affair. He then repeatedly lambasted Jones for forcing the cancellation of the event, calling it a "selfish" and "disgusting" decision, costing dozens of fighters and families their paychecks, and costing the UFC millions of dollars.
Whether or not you agree with that sentiment, his refusal to accept the Sonnen fight is only one component of the issue here.
Yes, Jones could have, and perhaps should have, accepted the fight. In the eyes of most, he would have been able to beat Sonnen without great difficulty. Of course, most feel that would defeat nearly anybody in the organization without great difficulty, so that much can be assumed. And while Sonnen is a great wrestler and an even better self-promoter, it seems as if he would have made an easy target for Jones's diverse and innovative attack.
Still, it is not required that Jones face a new opponent on 8 days notice. He signed a fight contract to face Dan Henderson, not Chael Sonnen. He and his team apparently thought it was in his best interests to not move ahead with the last minute change of plans. Nowhere in his contract does it say "you must do anything and everything that Dana White tells you to, on demand" or "you are solely responsible for the wellbeing of every single person who in any way has a part of an event in which you participate."
Dana White and the UFC are used to getting things their way. They control all the parts and pieces on the board, so if you don't get with their program, you'll find yourself excluded from the game entirely. As White ranted and raved against Jones and his team, he sounded more like a kid in a temper tantrum, demanding that he gets what he wants, than the head of a massive global enterprise searching for a solution to an unforeseen problem.
Of course, it was the UFC who cancelled the event, not Jon Jones. It was an injury which led to the fiasco to begin with, and not anything that Jones caused. And if the UFC had put together a more attractive undercard for UFC 151, they could have just bumped up all the other bouts, and left the card intact without the Jones-Henderson battle on top.
Jones' decision to refuse the Sonnen fight warrants criticism; however, the blame certainly does not fall squarely on his shoulders, and the responsibility of cancelling UFC 151 still belongs to the UFC itself.
Sources: Dana White Press Conference, Yahoo! Sports, MMAFighting.com
Jake Emen is a longtime boxing and MMA fan, and runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com. You can find more of his writing, along with interviews, rankings and breaking news stories at the site, or you can follow ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.