Today's UFC conference call to announce the cancellation of UFC 151 was a non-stop flurry of incredible quotes from UFC president Dana White. White was clearly angry and frustrated with the situation as a whole, but his anger was also very focused on Jon Jones and his trainer, Greg Jackson.
The story that Dana told was that, after Dan Henderson's knee injury forced him out of the bout, Lyoto Machida turned down a chance to challenge for the title but Chael Sonnen accepted and wanted to fly to Vegas that night. White said that the UFC PR department began work on commercials for Jones vs. Sonnen before being informed that Jones turned down the fight.
Dana made a point to explain to the media that, in his words, "Jon Jones said I'm not fighting Chael Sonnen on eight days' notice' ...a world champion turned down a fight, that's never happened." White then went on to direct much of the blame at Jones trainer, Greg Jackson, explaining that Jackson told Jon that it would be the "biggest mistake of his career" to take the fight. The UFC president then called Jackson a "fucking sport killer." Later in the call, White continued, saying that he didn't care what Jackson thought about anything and that "he should never be interviewed by anyone again except for a psychiatrist."
But Dana never strayed too far from blaming Jones for his role in turning down the fight. At one point calling it one of the most disgusting and selfish decisions he has ever seen.
White was also specifically asked if this would have any impact on the UFC's sponsorship of Jones, something that made news before his last fight and led to some questioning of the appropriateness of a promotion sponsoring a fighter. Dana said that he hates the UFC sponsorships to begin with but that it was a "good question" if the actions of Jon in turning down the Sonnen fight would impact their sponsorship. He also, at one point, said that the decision to turn down the fight would significantly impact his and the promotion's relationship with the light heavyweight champion.
Finally, White said that if Jones turns down the fight with Lyoto Machida at UFC 152 in Toronto, a fight which was announced on the call, that we'd be having another conference call later today and "it won't be good."
There are serious ramifications of all of this. Jones' decision cost the UFC a lot of money, he cost everyone on the undercard a paycheck, he made a decision that screwed the fans.
But, as upsetting as it is, he also made a decision that he has every right to make. He didn't want a new opponent on barely more than a week's notice, and he didn't want a guy that lost his last fight. While I'm personally disappointed in him and think that it was a bad move on his part, fighters have to have the right to make decisions that they feel are in their best interest.
But that doesn't mean that there won't be consequences.