Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson sticks up for fellow UFC champ Jon Jones, saying that Jones got a "raw deal" by being blamed entirely for the cancellation of UFC 151.
No situation involving a UFC fighter's decision to turn down a fight has ever been anywhere near as controversial as Jon Jones' decision to not face Chael Sonnen on late notice at UFC 151. That decision resulted in the cancellation of the entire event on only a few days notice.
UFC president Dana White held a media conference call to announce the cancellation and completely buried Jones, blaming him and his camp for the cancellation and putting no focus on the promotion's structuring of the card so that there was no fight that could capably slide into the main event slot.
"Jones definitely got a raw deal," he emphasized last week after throwing out the first pitch at a Diamondbacks game. "All of the onus, all of it, was put on his shoulders. Everything. What about the co-main event? What about bringing in other guys? What about the guys getting injured? There was a lot. To place everything on his shoulders, I think, was very unfair. He's fully within his rights to turn down a fight.
"Would he have won? Yeah, he probably would have won. Would it have been a smart decision to make? No, probably not. So I definitely felt bad for him."
It's interesting to hear a guy like Henderson, rarely prone to controversial statements, publicly say that the UFC owned the blame for their card structuring and decisions.
Maybe it's just me, but we seem to see fighters willing to speak openly against the company line far more often in the last year than in the years prior.
Ben did go on to seemingly shift the blame back to the media for the reaction:
"The rash of guys turning down fights," he continued. "It happened before Jones. It wasn't like it's all of a sudden, it just happens out of nowhere. It happened before Jones decided not to fight Chael Sonnen. There were plenty of guys who turned down fights off short notice. I think just the way it was played up, the way it was built in the media, and by certain people, it made it a very negative connotation, to where, ‘Oh, he turned the fight down. He ruined these fighters' lives. He ruined all the fans and he screwed them over.' I don't think that's really so much the case. Everyone has their part to play. It's not just Jones himself in there, all by himself. It always takes two to dance."
But, again, the media didn't call everyone together on a major conference call to throw Jones under the bus.