On today's media conference call for the Chael Sonnen vs. Jon Jones upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, UFC president Dana White repeatedly stated that the reason that Sonnen was getting this huge opportunity was that he was the only guy who stepped up to fight Jon when the fight was offered previously. That previous time being on 8 days notice at UFC 151.
Call me crazy, but the idea that actual contenders in the division would choose to not risk their position by taking a fight on 8 days notice should not be a factor in disqualifying them from a shot that they'd have nearly half a year to prepare for.
White said this while also stating that fighters shouldn't take this to mean that stepping up on late notice means that the UFC will return the favor later.
This is the problem: Lyoto Machida didn't want to take a late notice fight against Jones, knowing he'd lost to him once already. Other contending light heavyweights also didn't want to possibly set their careers back a great deal by taking a fight they weren't ready for.
And now Dana has made it clear what the UFC thinks of that decision. You will get passed over for opportunities, and you will be called out to the media as though you blew it by passing up a fight.
If any light heavyweight contender turned down a shot at fighting Jones in April, after coaching a season of TUF, they deserve to be called out on not taking a fight with plenty of time for preparation. After all, it's not going to get any better.
But we learned on the call that this isn't just a fight that was made to boost TUF's ratings. Though, make no mistake, that is a huge part of it.
This is also a message to the rest of the UFC: When we call your telephone, you'd better pick up.