As mixed martial arts grows in popularity and the stakes of the fights become higher, both in what they mean to the fighters career prospects and their bank accounts, more and more fighters have been turning down the fights that have been offered to them.
The most high profile of these incidents came when UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ original opponent for UFC 151, Dan Henderson, pulled out of that fight with an injury.
Jones was offered a short-notice replacement fight against Chael Sonnen and he turned the it down, saying the eight days notice he was given was insufficient time to prepare for the title fight. The inability to stage the title fight resulted in the UFC 151 fight card being cancelled in full.
Jones was not alone in turning down a bout during 2012, Matt Mitrione, Cheick Kongo, Lyoto Machida, Shogun Rua and Rashad Evans were among the higher-profile UFC fighters who turned down fights last year. Each fighter obviously had their reasons behind turning down the fights, but to hear Dana White tell it, those reasons do not sit well with him.
“You don’t turn down fights in the UFC. You fight, that’s it,” White said at the post-fight media scrum, attended by Bleacher Report.
If UFC fighters think that irking the boss is the biggest problem they had when turning down a fight, White implied he was the least of their worries. The bigger problem comes when they make the call to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and turn down a fight.
“I can tell you this, you f***ing call Joe Silva and turn down a fight, you might as well just say 'rip up my contract.' He’s a mean little f***er. You don’t call Joe Silva and tell him you don’t want to fight anybody, you may as well take the fight, because (you’re next fight) is going to be worse.”
If the message wasn’t clear to fighters before, it became a little clearer on Saturday night in England, when Joe Silva calls and asks you to take a fight, the correct answer is “yes, sir” and maybe you can ask when the fight is to take place.
*All quotes obtained first hand by BR MMA.