Many of today’s active fighters have weighed in on the UFC 151 cancellation debacle, most saying that unlike UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, they would have stepped up and accepted the short-notice fight with Chael Sonnen.
The offer to Jones came after original opponent Dan Henderson fell out of the UFC 151 main event due to injury.
You can also count retired UFC Hall of Famer Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell among those that don’t understand why Jones wouldn’t accept the fight.
“I would have taken the fight,” Liddell said during a Monday live chat with fans on MMAWeekly.com content partner Yahoo! Sports’ website. Like most other fighters, however, Liddell didn’t blindly condemn Jones.
“But I don't make his decisions or run his career for him.”
After a short-notice fight wasn’t going to happen, UFC president Dana White announced the cancellation of UFC 151 and that Jones would instead face No. 1 contender Lyoto Machida at UFC 152 in Toronto just four weeks later.
Those plans also went awry when Machida declined the fight with Jones, leaving UFC officials to put together a fight between Jones and former champ Vitor Belfort, the new UFC 152 main event.
While Jones received a mountain of criticism for declining the Sonnen fight, Machida’s decision has been met with a modicum of understanding… including from the Iceman.
“Well, that's a different thing,” Liddell commented. “Machida would have got a title fight he was in line for, whereas Chael was taking a title fight he wasn't in line for. If Lyoto was not in shape, I guess I understand. He was beat by Jones last time and he would have wanted time to prepare. It is different from a peak Jones turning down a fight.”
So the burden still seems to teeter heavily towards Jones, but Liddell doesn’t let any opinions about whether Jones should or shouldn’t have taken the fight sway his opinion about who will win.
Liddell has been around the fight game his entire life, so isn’t clouded by the out-of-the-cage smoke swirling around the Jones vs. Belfort match-up.
“If you look at it on paper, Jones is the favorite and should win, but it is a big mistake not to think Vitor is very dangerous. I was a puncher and I believe in punchers’ chances.”
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