UFC 151: A Sober Look at a Cautionary Tale for the Ages

James MacDonaldFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 30:  Mixed martial artist Jon Jones arrives at the Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards 2011 at the Palms Casino Resort November 30, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Has everyone calmed down? OK, fantastic.

Now that the Interwebz has recovered from yesterday’s near critical mass explosion of resentment towards Jon Jones and Greg Jackson, we can examine the demise of UFC 151 with something approaching perspective.

Who can we really blame for Thursday’s insanity? Quite honestly, everyone shares a portion of the blame for a situation that was both regrettable and comical, all at once.

Dana White’s impromptu propaganda campaign may have succeeded in shifting most of the blame onto the pair from Albuquerque, but no one came out of this mess smelling of roses.

Given the UFC’s deal with Fox and the resulting strain on the roster, the likes of Dana White and Joe Silva must accept some of the backlash for allowing their events to be so top-heavy. It should never be the case that the loss of one bout is enough to tank an entire show, even if it is the main event.

Jones and Jackson cannot be blamed for the fact that UFC 151 lacked a sufficiently compelling supporting cast. That particular error falls squarely on the UFC’s shoulders. They put all their eggs in one basket, crossed their fingers and hoped for the best.

Considering the UFC’s current injury epidemic, what on earth compelled the UFC brass to base their marketing strategy on promoting a solitary fight? That is not the Zuffa model; that is the boxing approach to event promotion.

The UFC promotes fight cards, rather than just main events. People pay with the expectation of enjoying a couple hours of entertainment, rather than just 25 minutes.

Hopefully Dana White comes to his senses and when his blood pressure returns to human levels, realizes that his reaction yesterday was more over the top than a Nicolas Cage performance.

With all that said, Jones must also accept some of the blame here.

While he was under no obligation to accept the fight with Sonnen, he could have taken one for the team. Indeed, carrying an event on one’s shoulders comes with certain responsibilities. Pressure is a privilege, as they say.

However, it seems that the 205-pound king wants all of the glory and none of the responsibility. He was aware that the entire event hinged on his answer, yet he declined to participate for reasons that I still struggle to comprehend.

There appears to be no middle ground when it comes to Dana White. If you do him a solid, he will pay you back in spades. If you refuse to play ball, he will throw you under the bus without hesitation. Just ask “Shogun” Rua.

And why did the current light heavyweight champ turn down a fight with an out of shape middleweight? It was apparently a decision based on the advice of Greg Jackson, who suggested that it would be the worst decision of Jones’ career.

Not since Rich Franklin told Matt Serra to start a fight on his knees has someone handed out such lamentably “lemon” advice.

Jones would have had every advantage had he taken the bout, even on eight days notice. What would he really gain by waiting? Everyone knows how Sonnen fights. He looks to close the distance immediately and clinch up.

By exhibiting such obscene caution, Jones has not only irritated his employer. He has also succeeded in tanking his already shaky reputation with the sport’s fanbase. Even if he had the right to turn down the fight, his decision was ill-advised in every sense.

In truth, every single decision that led to yesterday’s sorry state of affairs was an absolute howler. Years from now, Dana White’s progeny will likely tell terrifying bedtime stories about the ill-fated event.

UFC 151 is a cautionary tale for the ages.