Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown:” Dana White’s Public Humiliation of Jon Jones Worse Than Jones Refusing to Fight Sonnen
By Joshua Molina
A fired-up Dana White trashed UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones for refusing to fight Chael Sonnen on Sept. 1 in place of injured superstar Dan Henderson, forcing cancelation of the entire show.
White also blasted Jones’ trainer Greg Jackson, whom he called a “sport killer,” after he allegedly advised Jones that taking a match with Sonnen on eight days notice would be “the biggest mistake of your career.”
Henderson suffered a partial MCL tear, forcing him out of the fight. When White got the news yesterday he called Sonnen who said he would fly to Las Vegas that night to start promoting the fight. Instead Jones will fight Lyota Machida on Sept. 22, at UFC 152 in Canada.
Jones’ refusal to fight Sonnen is a devastating blow to the UFC and the sport. But perhaps equally as punishing is White’s total public burial of Jones. A hot-headed White ripped on one of his biggest stars and painted him as essentially a coward.
White seems to be taking his frustrations with Henderson getting hurt, out on Jones.
UFC will lose millions of dollars on promotion, advertising and contracts with FX, which was to air the preliminary fights, and pay per view companies.
Jones decision not to fight will earn him no fans, but White needs to be realistic. Chael Sonnen is one of the Top 10 best fighters in the world. He’s no chump. He’s fought Anderson Silva, regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world for seven rounds, and probably won five of them. He’s a top wrestler. He’s not some guy off the street.
Jones’ decision to not fight Sonnen isn’t the gutsiest, but don’t blame Jones for having such a weak pay per view card. White always talks about how the UFC has modernized and legitimized MMA – but why would Jones risk everything to fight Sonnen on eight days notice? Even if Jones had a full camp to prepare for Sonnen, it would still likely be a tough fight for him.
White may be doing more damage to Jones in the long run then Jones is doing to himself by not wanting to fight.
White said that Jones, who recently signed a contract with Nike, will now go down as the first champion to refuse a fight. Jones will also be remembered as the only guy to force the cancelation of a UFC show.
“I don’t know why a guy who is world champion, and who considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, wouldn’t fight a guy,” White said. “It is baffling for me.”
White continued to rip Jones for backing down.
“You are either a fighter or you’re not,” White said.
The UFC boss said that Jones let down the entire company, everyone working to promote the show, and the other fighters on the card.
“Good for you Jon Jones – you are rich and you don’t have to take this fight, but there’s a bunch of guys on the undercard and this is how they make their money,” White said.
It’s true that Jones decision won’t help with his popularity.
Jones’s behavior in recent weeks and months has raised questions. He was arrested and convicted of drunken driving. He then was publicly disrespecting Dan Henderson leading up to his Sept. 1 fight. He also said that he didn’t want to fight Lyota Machida because his first fight with him didn’t do well on pay per view and that he only wanted to fight people who are big draws.
Jones then started parading around calling himself “a businessman.” Along the way he got in a twitter war with Sonnen, at a time when he was supposed to be focused on Henderson.
But White himself is contradicting himself by wanting to book Sonnen. Just a few days ago he said Sonnen couldn’t talk his way into a title show and that he would have to beat several top guys before getting a shot at the title.
But when White got the news about Henderson, he called Sonnen, who quickly accepted the fight.
White said Sonnen told him “I will make this fight.”
Sonnen had already got White fired up on how they would promote the fight.
White said Sonnen told him this: “Chael Sonnen said ‘Jones is a mental midget and that he will beat him mentally first. There will be no spinning backfists in this fight. Chael Sonnen falls down only one time.’”
White also berated Jackson.
“How much faith do you have in your champion and your guy,” White asked.
During the conference call, White was told that Jackson was questioning White’s comments about him on a radio show, prompting White to respond,
“I don’t give a (expletive) about what Greg Jackson thinks,” White said. “That guy is the biggest (expletive) weirdo. Greg Jackson should never be interviewed by anyone ever again except by a psychiatrist.”
Something is clearly going on with Jon Jones. Has the fame gotten to his head? Whatever it is, it’s likely that his reputation will take a hit here. Fight fans tend to be working class people. Working class people usually jump at any opportunity to work or make money. It will be hard for them to identify with Jones, who is turning down a fight.
And anyone who has ever competed in combat or any other sport knows that there is no shame in losing. There is some shame in refusing to fight – especially when you are a fighter.
Jones looks bad in this situation, but White may look worse. He just buried and publicly humiliated one of his top stars. Surprisingly, Sonnen comes out looking the best – and probably positioned himself for an eventual title shot much sooner than he thought.
“This isn’t a guy who just talks and shoots his mouth off,” White said. “He puts his money where his mouth is. He talks the craziest (expletive) I have ever heard, yet he’s ready to go out there and fight. And I respect that.”