Jon Jones has refused to take a fight with Chael Sonnen on eight days notice according to Dana White on a media conference call—and that's not something a champion should ever do.
A champion should fight all comers rather than pick and choose opponents.
Now, fighters like Jon Jones (and recently Anderson Silva) are finagling their way around fights for one reason or another, forgetting that the belt is a symbol for dominance and courage rather than a means to securing bigger sponsors.
Jones' recent career faux pas is the most egregiously bad example of a champion choosing not to defend his belt in the sport's history.
Dan Henderson injured his knee, Chael Sonnen stepped up to the plate, and Jones—in a moment that will live forever in infamy—refused to take the fight against Sonnen (or any fighter) on eight days notice.
This is at worst cowardly, and at best aloof.
Could you imagine if an NFL team refused to play another team due to a sudden roster switch? That wouldn't fly in the NFL and Jones choosing not to defend his belt shouldn't fly in the UFC. The situation makes the UFC look horrendous and, I dare say, bush league.
Furthermore, it shows abysmal financial/public relations acumen by Jones and his management.
Yes, taking a fight on eight days notice is a risk and Jones could lose some of his value or vaunted sponsorships with a loss, but the downside to taking the fight is nowhere near as bad as the downside of not taking it.
MMA fans are notoriously vindictive and outspoken. Now, since Jones didn't take the fight, he'll forever be known by fans as a coward and as the guy who ducked Chael Sonnen; he'll be a paper champion now and always.
Also, infuriating one's bosses is also a bad move to make; Zuffa's relations with Jones will be soured for quite some time due to this incident.
Ultimately, a UFC title belt is something that signifies you're the best in the world at that weight class. It's something to be defended to prove you're the best, not something to be protected or hide behind whilst using it to guarantee bigger pay days.
Jon Jones is guilty of violating this sacred truth of MMA and in doing so destroying his reputation as a fighter and champion for the rest of time.
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