UFC 159 took place on April 27th in Newark, New Jersey, but not without hitches. I boycotted the fight because in my opinion the title fight between Jon 'Bones' Jones and Chael Sonnen reeked of pro wrestling: Dana White and the UFC were pandering to a subset of fans with this fight, and in the process alienated others.
Prior to this match, Sonnen had lost miserably to Anderson Silva in a middleweight title fight. Later, Sonnen chimed in when a title fight at light heavyweight between Jones and Dan Henderson was cancelled because of an injury to Henderson, one that had happened a few weeks before the scheduled match but only came to light days prior.
No one at LHW wanted to step up on such short notice, because Jones is a formidable opponent and chances like that come rarely. In came middleweight Sonnen, who offered to fight Bones. The champ rightly refused the fight: Sonnen hadn’t fought at LHW for years, his last fight was a loss at a weight class below, and he was unworthy of the title shot.
Then White publically insulted and, in my opinion, bullied the champ into taking the fight.
Some fans mystifyingly thought Chael was being a man stepping up, when in reality he was side stepping running the 205 pound gauntlet and getting a free ride to a fight many work years to earn. His mouth, not his Octagon performance, got him the fight. Good for Sonnen, bad for something quickly moving from sport to fight entertainment.
Bones dispatched of Chael easily, like I knew he would. It was no surprise at all that Chael the wrestler would get outwrestled by Jones, whose wrestling translates far better into MMA. My fear was Bones breaking his leg on Chael’s face and losing due to freaky doctor’s stoppage. That almost happened.
While in top position and pushing off, Bones suffered an odd, gruesome compound break of his big toe. He didn’t know it though, and continued to pound Sonnen into submission. The ref stopped the fight at 4:33 of round one.
Jones was celebrating in the Octagon and about to speak with Joe Rogan when both noticed the toe. Jones grew queasy and needed a stool to sit down on. At the press conference afterward, Jones claimed his corner would have straightened the toe and he would have continued, but his reaction upon seeing the toe says otherwise. Furthermore, Dana White confirmed doctors would have stopped the bout with a fracture like that. Sonnen would have gotten the belt.
Had that happened, I would have stopped watching the UFC for good. It was an odious outcome I had predicted as being possible, and would have relegated the organization to WWE status. And while some were castigating me for not watching the fight, claiming I was being too emotional, it occurred to me that in this world of corporatization, voting with our dollars is often the only voice we have.
I’ve been a fan of the UFC since the first event, and haven’t missed an event in ten years. I've seen two live. But I refused to give Dana White and the UFC my money for this one. The entire card, it turns out, was a disappointment for many. My Twitter feed was full of upset viewers. It all began months ago with the twisting of Bones Jones’s arm and the making of a bogus fight.
But fans rarely learn. Former owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Harold Ballard, once said he had no need to spend a lot of money on good players since he sells out anyway. That thinking may not still exist in that organization, but they hardly ever make the playoffs and yet sell out regularly with one of the highest priced tickets in the sport---another example of the oblivious fan sealing the fate of his own disappointment.
It’s up to fans of the UFC to speak with their Tweets and speak with their dollars to send the message Dana needs to hear: let the men fight and stop trying to micro-manage aspects of the fight game better left to the gods.
Follow me on Twitter @RenkoStyranka