Yesterday might go down in MMA history as a turning point for fighters and for Zuffa. It was the first time that a champion "turned down a fight", though this isn't necessarily true, but it certainly sounded bad during White's rant. For a little while myself, I was a bit perturbed by Jones decision, and for a little bit, I even considered it partially his fault. But as time went by, I stopped being annoyed at Jones at all. I still think that his decision was a poor one, but in the end, the issue isn't whether or not Jones ruined a card with that refusal, the issue is -why- it ruined the card.
This situation could also be blamed on Dan Henderson for being too stubborn to come forward about his injury, and really, he has more fault in this situation that Jon does if you're being unbiased about what's right. Despite his universal love from MMA fans, Hendo was definitely in the wrong in this situation, and has more fault on him than Jones does, for not simply being responsible and admitting that he wasn't going to fight through an injury. I love the old school mentality of fight through it, but it's not good. In the end, though, this isn't his fault either.
The brunt of the blame should fall squarely on the shoulders on Zuffa, the promoter. Because we as fans can see a drastic trend from the past until now, where Zuffa's pay per views became more frequent. I'm actually going to go out on a limb here, and say that Zuffa's greed as a company, and their desire to make themselves more money, more frequently, is what caused this situation.
It's not that the card had to be cancelled, but Zuffa realized that this card wasn't going to draw without a LHW title fight. And it wasn't just not going to draw, it probably was going to be a net loss for them, though I don't have any sources to back that up. It's terrible for the families involved, but the promoter has to do what's best for its financial interests, right?
The largest problem isn't that Jon Jones refused to fight, as much as I don't like that mentality, but it's on the quality of booking of the UFC pay per view events. Instead of using PPV as a must-see-TV kind of deal, where they stack the cards with their best fighters, holding 3-4 PPVs a year, raking in UFC 100 kind of money with their long term promoting of multiple stars on a single card, they employ a different tactic. Instead of going for quality over quantity, they're pumping out 13 PPVs this year alone, and last year they had 17. That's 60 dollars per show coming out of fans pockets, with only 15 or 16 actual fights spread among those shows being ones we're actually paying to see.
Now, the UFC gives fans a ton of fights on Free TV, and that's great. But they seem to treat the majority of those shows as throwaway. Fights like Wanderlei Silva vs Rich Franklin II would have been better served by being the undercard of a bigger show, and so would have Edgar vs Bendo I & II, Aldo vs Mendes, Faber vs Barao, etc. Some of those cards were exceedingly fun to watch, and in the end, that's what we as fans of MMA want, but the feeling and atmosphere of a show can change our perception of a match just as much as the actual match can. Having multiple big fights on a single card can amp us up in a way that 1 or 2 big fights just can't do.
Currently the model trend with PPVs seems to be 1 or 2 big name fights, while they put people that aren't particularly well known or liked by the MMA community on the rest of the show. It seems to me that television cards have been more stacked and interesting than the PPVs following or preceeding them lately. We got Lyoto vs Bader and Shogun vs Vera on a TV card, which, I'm not complaining about. But if the UFC had put Lyoto and Shogun on the upcoming PPV instead, this card would never have been cancelled.
Television cards should be booked like the UFC is currently booking PPVs, with one big name fight and flooding the rest of the card with people it wants to build. PPVs should be flooded with established names, people that have fought for the promotion a few times and have a reputation, and they could still follow the 1-2 big main fights on the card, without too much damage if those 1 or 2 fights pull out.
The entire fault of this situation with 151 lies with Zuffa's refusal to give fans their 60 dollars worth on PPVs, and their continued attempts at putting together cards we should buy solely on the basis of 1 or 2 fights. At the moment, it might feel good to blame Jones for something like this happening, but his refusal may be a good thing for us as fans overall. It may very well put pressure on Zuffa to stop holding PPVs solely on the basis of one person's drawing power, and actually consolidate their cards to give fans stacked fight cards with more than 2 fights to care about.
(And no, Koscheck vs Ellenberger wouldn't have saved the card either.)