Fingers point with UFC 151 cancellation
Light heavyweight challenger Dan Henderson’s knee blowout precipitated not just the cancellation of his title fight with champion Jon Jones, but a historic first in the cancellation of an entire event. Somehow, fans and so-called expert journalists are blaming Jones. That claim is a joke.
When Henderson’s injury went from rumor to reality, UFC president Dana White offered Bones Chael Sonnen. I’m not sure what fan could hear this without spitting up a mouthful of beer. Sonnen recently has his ass handed to him by Anderson Silva in the weight class below Jones. Sonnen hasn’t fought at UFC LHW since way back in the mid-2000s. He was no barn burner then.
Fighters are typically expected to prove themselves in a division before getting a shot, Brock Lesnar excluded. With Sonnen’s last fight a loss at 185, it’s not reasonable to even offer him as a replacement for the injured Henderson, nor is it respectful to the champ. Despite the oligarchy that is the UFC, White needs to realize fighters have the right to pipe up when it comes to their career.
Bones Jones is widely considered #3 pound for pound, behind Silva and GSP. Getting a shot at Bones should mean running the gauntlet, proving you’ve earned the shot by beating the best in the division. Sonnen wouldn’t be able to beat Shogun Rua, Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman (MW), and would probably be beaten by Forrest griffin, Stephan Bonnar and Alexander Gustafsson...
Good for Sonnen for not only getting a title shot with zero work, but for somehow getting Dana and oodles of fans deluded into thinking Bones is the bad guy. This scenario is an ominous sign of worse to come.
Till now, Dana has been the best UFC president fans and fighters could want, but it is a complete monopoly, and it is Las Vegas. White and majority owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta are no choir boys. And despite White’s avoidance of most of boxing’s pitfalls, the potential is great for it to fall into the abyss of patriarchal control, manipulation, and subsequent loss of street cred.
White has worked hard to earn control of the UFC as president and minority owner, just as Jones and every champ and contender have done a lot to earn their spot on the roster by rising to the top. Their career choices---in this case taken with the advice or manager and trainer Greg Jackson---need to be respected.
Furthermore, Sonnen is bad for a legitimate sport. The man tested positive for unallowably high testosterone, and also pled guilty to money laundering in connection with mortgage fraud. But boy he can promote a fight.
This debacle didn’t begin with Henderson’s injury or with Bones turning down Sonnen as a challenger: it began with White offering Bones a joke of an opponent, got worse when MMA journalists refused to question Sonnen’s worthiness as a LHW challenger, and ended with White’s blowing up at Jones and Jackson in public. White and the UFC will take a bath on this event, so I understand their grief, but it's not Bones' fault.
I stopped watching boxing when it became run by tyrants. I stopped watching the NHL and NFL when it was clear an entire season of time, energy, and emotion watching games could circle the toiled bowl with a half dozen bogus calls in the post-season. I watch the UFC becasue I know they won't dissappoint, no matter what obstacles come in their way.
Follow me on Twitter @RenkoStyranka