Dan Henderson suffered a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in training on Thursday, forcing him to bow out. White said, of all the guys he called to fight on short notice, Sonnen was the only one who stepped up to the plate.
But, with eight days left until UFC 151, Jones declined to fight Sonnen, knowing full well that it would force White to cancel the event and hurt the UFC in the process.
White was obviously disappointed, saying, via Yahoo! Sports, "I'm stunned. We've never had a situation where this happened before, where a champion wouldn't step up to fight."
Henderson got to the heart of the matter rather quickly:
This is the first time in UFC history that the champion wouldn't step up and fight [a replacement], and I was pretty shocked to hear that. It's not like he's injured. It's unbelievable to me that he wouldn't take that 'the show must go on' attitude.
So where is Jones' heart?
Well, I'll tell you one thing: It doesn't lie solely with mixed martial arts.
Of course, it must be said what got Jones into MMA in the first place. As USA Today noted, he was looking to support an expecting girlfriend. Then, when his brothers became successful in football, Jones' competitive drive led him to try to be as successful as they were in his sport.
So, let me be clear, this is not a statement on Jones' drive and passion. He wouldn't be the No. 2 pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world if he didn't have drive and passion.
This is more of a statement on his priorities.
Do you have a problem with Jones' decision to decline to fight Sonnen?
Sonnen, as controversial as he is, would bend over backwards for the UFC. Whether you love him or hate him, there is no questioning his commitment to the organization.
Jones, on the other hand, is doing this primarily to make a living. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with that...except when he does things like this, which compromise the entire UFC and leave fans, fighters and promoters furious.
It leaves White in a difficult position because he can't really do anything about it. You reprimand Jones and you're losing one of your most electric (and lucrative, I might add) fighters. You leave him be and you risk him doing something like this in the future.
Jones (16-1, 10-1 UFC) gives so much to White and the UFC when he's in the Octagon, but, on the other hand, can you trust him to make every fight after this? Will he make concessions before a fight for the better of the UFC?
We know one thing now: Jones won't on eight days' notice.