Does Jon Jones' Reasoning for Turning Down UFC 151 Sonnen Bout Hold Water?
On Thursday the UFC took the previously unprecedented step of scrapping an entire fight card.
UFC president Dana White had no problem placing blame when it came to the reasoning behind the cancellation of the card, laying that squarely on the doorstep of Greg Jackson and Jon Jones, saying:
Jon Jones said 'I'm not fighting Chael Sonnen with eight days' notice. Jones’s trainer, Greg Jackson, told Jon that taking the fight with Chael would be the biggest mistake of his life. That’s what he told Jon Jones. Let me tell you, this guy (Greg Jackson) is a sport killer.
As for Sonnen, when White called him to inquire if he was interested in taking Henderson’s spot on the card, Sonnen jumped at the chance, according to White:
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIREHe said that not only would he face Jones in eight days, he’d jump in a plane to Vegas and fight him that night if he was asked to.
Throughout the day the MMA media, fans and fighters all offered their opinions on the subject of Jones turning down the fight and the majority of those voices were very critical of Jones. Through all the bashing Jones was silent.
That changed late on Thursday when John Morgan from MMAJunkie.com sat down with the champ.
Jones offered his apologies to the fans and fighters that were affected by the fight card’s cancellation, but ultimately as he said, “I feel terrible, but it also wasn't my decision to cancel the whole card. I don't make those decisions.”
It’s true, Jones doesn’t make those decisions, but there is no denying that his decision to turn down the fight with Sonnen left the UFC in a bind. Yes, you can argue that the UFC shouldn’t have put all its eggs in one basket, but they did and for that they do share in some of the blame.
However, they found what they thought was a suitable replacement in Sonnen, only to have the champ put the kibosh on the fight. A decision that White said left him “disgusted with Jon Jones and Greg Jackson.”
Jones offered the expected reasons as to why he turned down the fight with Sonnen. Among those reasons, he was planning on facing Dan Henderson, a different fighter than Chael Sonnen, and he would not have had time to adjust his game plan for Sonnen.
But one other reason stood out:
If this was my first fight in the UFC and I really didn't have a choice and they needed somebody to step in last-minute, if it was that type of scenario, then I'd probably more open to it, but I'm a UFC champion, and I need to perform that way. If I would have taken this fight, that would have been letting my ego get in the way and not using my intellect. This is war, and you have to go in there prepared.
This is the one thing that stuck out for me and bothered me about what Jones had to say. Taking the fight would have been letting his “ego get in the way.”
I would argue that turning down a fight that his employer set up for him and expected him to take showed just as much ego getting in the way as accepting the fight would have.
In fact, I would say that turning the fight down showed even more ego, especially when Jones also offered the following in his conversation with Morgan: "I take a lot of pride in the way I perform, and I want to put on the best performance possible every time I fight. I don't want to go out there just to win the fight. I want to go out there to dominate. I want to make it look effortless. I want it to be a beautiful thing."
Again, a nice sentiment, but the reality is that Jones is stepping into a locked cage to have a fist fight.
This isn’t ballet, this isn’t choreographed, it’s a fight. I get that he wants to have pride in his performance, but sometimes things aren’t going to be effortless, sometimes there are going to be obstacles to overcome and adversity to work through.
That’s when champions are made, that’s what champions and warriors do, they step up when asked to do so.
*Dana White quotes obtained first-hand from media call.
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