UFC 151: Did Dana White's Press Conference Bash of Jon Jones Go Too Far?
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Simply put, yes.
UFC commissioner Dana White's press conference on August 23, 2012 (h/t MMA Mania) attacked defending light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones and his trainer, Greg Jackson, for their unwillingness to defend the title at UFC 151 on short notice.
The original competitor, Dan Henderson, was deemed unable to go with a partial tear in his knee, specifically the MCL. White ran through his Rolodex before Chael Sonnen, a loud-mouthed American fighter and two-time middleweight title challenger, agreed to the fight.
Jones, however, was not interested in fighting Sonnen, as his trainer Greg Jackson advised him that taking the fight on eight days' notice would be a bad business decision.
Outraged, Dana White addressed the ramifications of this decision by Jackson and Jones when prompted by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in a Q&A segment of the outrageous press conference.
"It’s a major, major deal. We lose shit loads of money, money that’s already been spent. Were eight days out [of the fight]. It’s the first time we’ve ever done this."
Meltzer asked what the fans can expect from this cancellation, to which White replied, “They’ll get refunded.”
The press conference has been the source of a lot of intrigue, and it may bring UFC more attention than the September 1 series of fights would have. This attention comes mainly because of White’s foul language and his apparent hatred of Jones and Jackson for the decision they made.
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Jones’ unwillingness to fight caused White to cancel the entire pay-per-view event, which, in turn, cancelled those fights on the undercard as well.
Yet White did not seem as concerned with the undercard, replying to a question from David Martin of mmaweekly.com with “We’ll figure it out,” when asked how he will handle the other fights that were set to occur in Las Vegas, Nev. on the first day of September.
This is where White goes over the line in his bashing of Jones. White is pinning this whole thing on Jones, who he sees as already an unpopular champion of the sport. In doing this, White puts the pressure on Jones to carry both the UFC and any card he appears on, as White made it obvious that without the headline fight, there is no reason to go forth with the event.
The commissioner began running commercials for the Jones vs. Sonnen fight as soon as Sonnen told him he accepted the fight offer. He did not consult Jones before pursuing this campaign, assuming the fighter would be fine with White’s decision to find a replacement.
Asked by Foxsports.com’s Claudine Graham in the same Q&A segment if he thought Jones was scared to lose, White replied:
"I don’t know. I don’t know why someone considered the pound-for-pound best wouldn’t want to fight anybody."
White will never forgive Jon “Bones” Jones for this maneuver, and he may do all that he can to ruin his trainer’s credibility. The commissioner said of Jackson:
"[He’s] a sport killer, this guy is from another planet, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life."
The commissioner mocked the trainer and fighter’s reasoning of a business decision, saying, “I always laugh when a fighter says I’m a businessmen. No you're not, you're a fighter.”
White then brought up the most difficult fighter to deal with in the history of UFC, Tito Ortiz, and said that though he was a pain in the neck, he never turned down a fight.
ESPN’s Todd Graham asked how the recent turmoil affects Jones’ UFC sponsorship and his relationship with the sport, to which White could only say, “A lot.”
It looks like Dana White will hold a grudge against Jones going forward, and possibly encourage UFC commercial campaigns to bring up this refusal to fight when creating future ads for the sport.
Jones and Jackson, meanwhile, can only prepare for their next fight, and hope Dana White does not continue to verbally bash the two of them in an over-the-top manner.
The commissioner will get a lot of heat for this, and deservedly so. He attacked one of his players and his trainer, which is something that commissioners in other sports do not often do.
UFC is different and does not need a nice guy running the show, but White is letting money issues drive his anger toward Jones, as this anger is surfacing itself in an irrational, hate-filled manner.
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