In the wake of UFC 151's cancellation, everyone has had something to say about the decision made by Light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones. Some have defended Jones decision as the smartest thing he could do to protect his brand, while others have gone to the extreme of wanting people to boycott Jones' fights in response. As usual, the right answer probably lies somewhere in between, and that is where I think the obvious solution lies.
I have never been a Jon Jones fan. At all. Some might even call me a "hater." They might even be right. But my personal opinion of Jones aside, I can see legitimate reasons why he would not want to defend his belt against Chael Sonnen next Saturday. His preparation was for a different style of fighter, Chael hadn't earned a title shot, etc. All of these things are perfectly reasonable, and Jones played no fault in the card being weak aside from the main event. Anyone who blames him fully for this debacle is flat out wrong. The UFC ran this risk with the way they put the card together, and now they are paying the price for their mistakes. This does not, whatsoever, mean that Jones made the right decision.
Keep reading after the jump to see what Jones could have done to save the dayJon Jones, whether it was his intent or not, has made it look like he is afraid of Chael Sonnen. As ridiculous as that may sound, Jones played his hand badly, and has managed to make Sonnen look like the good guy. Jones has said recently something to the effect of Chael is not going to talk his way into a title fight with me. He could have used those words to his advantage, however, and saved UFC 151 at the same time.
When the UFC came to Jones with the Chael fight, he was well within his rights to say Sonnen did not deserve a shot at his title. Jones should have counter-offered a 207 lb catchweight fight instead. In the event that he somehow fell to Sonnen, he would still keep his title, and the rematch of the century would be instabooked. If he wins, he looks the hero of the day for making a sacrifice to keep the card going, while putting his title in no jeopardy. Fans would have respected him for taking a tough fight on short notice, and he and Chael, regardless of the result of the fight, would have been better off for it.
Instead, we get the cancellation of UFC 151, and a lot of prelim fighters lost the money they were depending on to pay for their own training camps. Even if the UFC pays them, all that sponsor money is gone, and that is the lifeblood of the fringe UFC fighters. It is not Jon Jones' responsibility to look out for these guys, but he knew what would happen as a direct result of his decision. He made a decision that he felt was in his best interest, but that will hurt a lot of guys on the card. They will lose money, and the chance at exposure on a card with MMA's quickest rising superstar.
The biggest mistake here is Jon Jones forgot the first rule of this business. Show business. The ENTERTAINMENT business. The show must go on.