To say the last four days in the world of mixed martial arts has been chaotic is an understatement. We have never seen events transpire this way. As of last Thursday morning, UFC 151 was supposed to take place this Saturday with Jon Jones defending his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Dan Henderson.
On Wednesday night, rumors started to swirl that Henderson had suffered an injury in training. On Thursday morning, the UFC sent out a press release to the media stating that Dana White would be holding a conference call at 2 p.m. ET to discuss 151.
The call took place with White saying that Henderson suffered a partially torn MCL and was out of the fight. Then, what White said after that was a shocker. The fight was offered to former two-time middleweight challenger Chael Sonnen, and he accepted the fight. But when the fight was offered to Jones, he turned it down.
After that, White announced UFC 151 was cancelled due to these circumstances.
There has been a lot of controversy as to whether Jones should have or shouldn't have accepted the fight. We caught up with Sonnen's head trainer Scott McQuary, who breaks everything down for us on the Sonnen side.
"I got a text from Chael on Wednesday at about 6:30 Pacific saying we are going to have an emergency meeting and to call all the coaches into my office," McQuary stated to Bleacher Report. "We met up and we all sat down. Chael said flatly, 'You can't watch the Dan Henderson/Jon Jones fight next weekend.'
"We were all kind of surprised. He goes, 'Because you are going to cornering me against Jones.'
"Just about everybody's jaws dropped. None of us really had any idea this was coming. Obviously we were all very excited looking at the prospect of it. There were a lot of different things to think about. Eight days isn't a lot of time. Chael hadn't really been in the gym a lot in the last couple months. He always takes some time off like most guys do after the fight.
"But he was down for it and we were down for it. We started making arrangements right there and then. Within five minutes, we were in the ring and training. It wasn't until later that night, I get a text from him (Sonnen) at about 11:30 p.m. Pacific that Jones said no (to taking the fight)."
McQuary didn't mince his words to Sonnen about why Jones didn't take the fight.
"I said he (Jones) was a chicken," McQuary stated. "I said he's not taking this because he could lose. It's stating the obvious. Anybody can lose, but I think he felt he had a pretty good chance to lose."
Even after Sonnen found out, the Sonnen camp was still holding out hope all the way until Dana White announced the card was cancelled.
"If you look at Chael's Twitter account, where he was tweeting to Jones and asking him, 'Hey you got 30 minutes before Dana's conference call to be a champion or a coward.'
"Obviously he was trying to bring him on to take the fight, poking away at him to get him to do it and even offered his purse as well. I don't know what else Chael could have done. We held out hope for a last-second Hail Mary that Jones would have some cojones and step up to the plate. When Dana made the announcement, that sealed it for us."
White stated in the conference call that Jones had talked to his head trainer Greg Jackson, who advised Jones to not take the fight due to having only three days to prepare for the fight.
Jackson also said to MMA Weekly in an interview that Sonnen had been training with Dan Henderson to prepare for Jones and felt Sonnen would have an advantage in the fact they had been working together. McQuary states that is the furthest thing from the truth.
"Chael was not training with Dan Henderson," McQuary stated. "he had spoken on the phone with Dan a little bit, but no training whatsoever. Chael took some time off after the Anderson (Silva) fight to mentally and physically recover. It's exhausting going through a camp like that. I can tell you completely that Chael hadn't stepped into the gym until two weeks ago. He did three training sessions in those two weeks, and they were pretty light for him or anybody. He barely broke a sweat."
A lot of people have been critical of Jackson giving that advice to Jones. McQuary feels that some trainers have more influence over fighters than others, and it makes Jackson look bad in this situation.
"It depends on the fighter," McQuary stated. "In this case I think everybody has an influence. Trainers have more influence than others. Those guys (fighters) have a mind of their own. They have the right to free choice. If you give that power over like Jon Jones did to Greg Jackson, whether he was advocating responsibility or passing it off. I don't know if that's a completely smart decision. I think Greg Jackson is coming across as an extremely cautious coach that fights not to lose where Chael fights to win."
It has been a criticism in the past of Jackson and his style of how he prepares his fighters. McQuary says just look at the fights.
"I think it plays a very protective way of winning and keeping a good record," McQuary stated. "Greg has been criticized by other people in the past for doing just that. Having his fighters not necessarily going after the finish and utilize the other tools they have and taking risks. This is just another example to me of him trying to keep his fighters from taking any risks and protecting what they have."
"Unfortunately you're not going to be known as a legend that way," McQuary stated. "You have to put it out there and you have to remember where you came from. A lot of these guys got their start or are getting into the UFC by taking a short-notice fight against somebody who was skilled and ready."
People have wondered what Sonnen would have done if he was in the position that Jones was in. McQuary feels there would be no doubt at all.
"Absolutely without a doubt, in a heartbeat," McQuary stated. "I wouldn't even have to say anything. Chael steps up to the plate every time. He would have no doubt in his mind about the fight. Chael backs up what he says and follows it through with action."
You can follow me on Twitter @fightclubchi.
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