Many fighters were called. Most told Dana White, "No."
So Dana White hits the phones and starts calling people. We don't have the names of every fighter who was called, but according to Mr. White, everyone he called turned the fight down.
Personally, I want to know who they are. Everyone who told Dana and Lorenzo no bears partial responsibility for this disaster. I think we have a right to know who they are, so they can all be held accountable to the fans.
We know that eventually Chael Sonnen got a phone call from them. We don't know all the names of the fighters that Dana and Lorenzo called first, but here's a list of everyone that Dana White should have called with the offer before calling Chael Sonnen. I've put them in order, going for most logical challenger to least:
1.) Lyoto Machida -- Confirmed. The Dragon was offered the eleventh hour title shot and turned it down but initially agreed to fight Jones at UFC 152. Machida then changed his mind and counter-offered to fight Jones at UFC 153 in Brazil.
2.) Mauricio Rua: Confirmed. Yes he got the call and agreed to fight Jones if he had a couple months to prepare. Of course that wasn't what the UFC was looking for.
3.) Rashad Evans: Unknown.
4.) Alexander Gustafsson. Unknown.
5.) Glover Texeira. Unknown.
6.) Ryan Bader. Unknown.
7.) Quinton "Rampage" Jackson: Unknown.
8.) Forrest Griffin. Unknown.
9.) Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Unknown.
10.) Phil Davis: Unknown.
11.) Rich Franklin: Unknown.
12.) Matt Hamill: Unknown.
13.) Brandon Vera: Unknown.
14.) Stephan Bonnar: Unknown.
15.) James Te Huna: Unknown.
16.) Vladimir Matyushenko: Unknown.
17.) Thiago Silva: Unknown.
18.) Ryan Jimmo: Unknown.
19.) Igor Pokrajac: Unknown.
20.) Gegard Mousasi: Unknown.
I might have missed a few names but that does it for options at Light Heavyweight. According to Dana the UFC brass exhausted every logical option and quite a few illogical ones, and I think there's a whole lot of both there. I'd love to hear from everybody I just listed. I'd like to know if Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita actually called them. If not, why not?
At this point it would make sense for them to start calling Middleweights:
21.) Anderson Silva: Unknown, though we do know that Anderson called in on Thursday and offered to save the event by fighting any non-champion Light Heavyweight.
22.) Chris Weidman: Unknown whether the UFC called him, but we do know that he did call the UFC and offer to fight Jones at UFC 151. It's unclear what response he got, but obviously he isn't going to get a shot at Jonny "Bones" Jones.
23.) Vitor Belfort: Unknown whether he got the call to fight at UFC 151, but we do know that he has now agreed to fight Jones at UFC 152. Odds are he did get a phone call offering him the UFC 151 fight, but at this point we really have no idea.