Jon Jones should be the ultimate team player. In fact, walking cageside with the UFC logo emblazoned across his chest, Jones is currently the only fighter being paid sponsorship dollars by world's largest combat organization, yet, when the thankless labors of Dana White and the Fertitta brothers finally bare fruit, Jones rejects a replacement opponent.
Chael Sonnen has been the No. 2 ranked middleweight in the world for most of the last 30 months. Twice unsuccessful in dethroning Anderson Silva, the American Gangster decided that a move to light-heavyweight would be in the best interest of his career.
Sonnen was scheduled for a bout at UFC 155 against Forrest Griffin, but was quick to jump at an opportunity to replace fellow Team Quest fighter Dan Henderson.
In selecting a replacement, Dana White settled on a marketable star who is both dangerous and relevant. Not only that, but Sonnen has recently been engaged in a Twitter war with "Bones." The marketing strategy would be simple, and the possibility of a strong PPV buyrate was still realistic.
Regardless of how you feel about the situation, the actions of Jones are undeniably selfish. Fighters are paid to fight. Champions are paid to defend their titles. At what point does a champion get to pick and choose his opponents? Once Jon Jones agreed to step into the Octagon on September 1st, it is up to the matchmakers to determine who stands in front of him.
“Chael is in a great position in that he'd been training with Dan Henderson for this fight, getting him ready, and he's in shape. He knows the plan on what they're gonna do to get around Jon. So he's ready to go...
...It's not like he's stepping off the couch and into a fight. So taking a fight of that caliber with a guy that's ready, on three days notice, for a world championship, without any time to prepare, is just not professional to me.”
If the biggest concern that Jones has is that his opponent is in shape, there should be no issue here. Supposedly, Bones is the third best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. The physical tools possessed by the champion should be enough to combat anything or anyone thrown in his direction. He has excellent wrestling, which should neutralize the takedown attempts of Sonnen.
No champion should ever turn down a fight because it is too dangerous. It's cowardly and goes against the spirit of calling yourself the best in the world.
Jon Jones should be scared to lose his belt. Any champion who claims that he doesn't dread the idea of losing his belt is a liar. While fear is understandable, it doesn't give him the right to play matchmaker. His actions were unprofessional and downright disgusting.