Benson Henderson on UFC 151: 'Jon Jones Got a Raw Deal'
Benson Henderson believes that for well over a month Jon Jones has been forced to carry the onus for something that wasn't entirely his fault.
Jones has never been considered a fan favorite in the UFC, but he wasn't necessarily hated either.
All of that changed on August 23.
Jones was slated to face Dan Henderson in the main event for UFC 151, but during a conference call, UFC President Dana White announced Henderson was forced to withdraw from the fight due to an injury sustained in training.
The UFC offered Jones a replacement fight with Chael Sonnen, but the UFC light heavyweight champion wasn't interested in taking a short-notice bout. After Jones turned down the fight, the entire UFC 151 pay-per-view card was cancelled, which marked the first in UFC history.
Jones drew massive criticism from fans, peers and even White for turning down the fight. The UFC president called his young champ's decision "selfish and disgusting."
Henderson, the UFC lightweight champ, was recently spotted at an Arizona Diamondbacks game throwing out the first pitch. MMAFighting.com caught up with him to get his thoughts on UFC 151 and whether or not Jones was to blame for its cancellation:
Jones definitely got a raw deal. All of the onus, all of it, was put on his shoulders. Everything. What about the co-main event? What about bringing in other guys? What about the guys getting injured? There was a lot. To place everything on his shoulders, I think, was very unfair. He's fully within his rights to turn down a fight.
Would he have won? Yeah, he probably would have won. Would it have been a smart decision to make? No, probably not. So I definitely felt bad for him.
Henderson is mainly shocked at Jones being labeled enemy No.1 for turning down a fight. UFC 151 wasn't the first time a fighter turned down a fight, and it certainly won't be the last.
Still, Jones is the one facing hordes of criticism for refusing to risk his livelihood.
Some guys are turning down fights, short-notice fights, two week's notice fights, eight day's notice fights, five week's notice fights because it's not enough time to fully prepare. The rash of guys turning down fights, it happened before Jones. It wasn't like it's all of a sudden, it just happens out of nowhere. It happened before Jones decided not to fight Chael Sonnen. There were plenty of guys who turned down fights off short notice.
I think just the way it was played up, the way it was built in the media, and by certain people, it made it a very negative connotation, to where, "Oh, he turned the fight down. He ruined these fighters' lives. He ruined all the fans and he screwed them over." I don't think that's really so much the case. Everyone has their part to play. It's not just Jones himself in there, all by himself. It always takes two to dance.
At the end of the day, fans have to realize that fighters have bills to pay. They are going to look out for their own careers in hopes of setting up a better financial future for their families.
It's important to be exciting and put on a good show for fans, but ultimately, a fighter's purse is determined by whether he wins or loses. With the UFC title and a plethora of high-end sponsorships, Jones has a lot going for him right now.
Why risk everything by taking a short-notice bout against a world class opponent he wasn't even prepared for?
Henderson doesn't see how anyone could hold a grudge against someone doing what's best for their career:
They're obviously doing what they think is best for their career, best for them. Can't take anything away from that. When it comes to my career, and things I'm going to do that are best for my career, I'm going to do the same thing.
I definitely don't begrudge anybody for [turning down a fight], whatever the case may be. You definitely always have to do what's best for you and your career. Take care of your family, pay the bills.
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