Here's my theory on the chain of events that led us up to yesterday's UFC 151 debacle.
- Dan Henderson hurts his knee in practice.
- Henderson talks to his good friend & former training partner, Chael Sonnen. During their conversation, Hendo mentions the injury, and the possibility that it may affect his UFC 151 title fight.
- Sonnen, who now has inside knowledge of Hendo's injury, and who is also hoping to have a career resurgence in the LHW division, starts sending provoking tweets to Jon Jones, challenging him to a future fight. As far as the public (and I believe the UFC brass) knows, the main event between Henderson & Jones is still on and this is just "Chael being Chael".
- About a week later, Henderson informs the UFC brass that his knee is too injured and he is unable to fight at UFC 151.
- Sonnen (as someone who already has this inside knowledge) is the first guy to step up and ask for the fight against Jones.
- The UFC brass contacts Jones about this situation and Jones turns down the fight (which he has every right to do).
- Rather than taking time to look for more options, the UFC decides to cancel the event all together, and at the same time throw Jones & Greg Jackson under the bus. We later find out that there were other guys willing to step up, but it's too late.
Sonnen comes out smelling like a rose, because if Jones had taken the fight against him, then great...undeserved title shot for Sonnen! If Jones turned down the fight against Sonnen, then Sonnen still looks good because he comes across to the public as a guy that had the balls to step up on short notice and take the fight, while at the same time positioning himself for a more traditional title shot down the road. Brilliant work on his part. Jones comes off as looking like the bad guy, scared to fight Sonnen. How ironic, isn't it, that Sonnen was the "bad guy" during his time in the MW division, but now he has positioned himself as the "good guy" in the LHW division? An obvious pro wrestling move, and most people haven't even realized it. Or if they have, they're more than willing to accept it.
My two cents: Dana said earlier this week that Sonnen would need two or three fights in the LHW division before he would even be considered "ready" for a title shot (you know, since he hasn't fought at LHW in 7 years, and was a journeyman at LHW back when he did fight there). Now all of the sudden since Sonnen was the first guy to speak up (having had inside knowledge), he's now deemed "ready"? He's arguably less deserving than every single LHW on the UFC roster who has had at least one fight there. And now, the ironic thing is, a guy who is probably less deserving (having zero LHW fights in the last 5 years) ends up getting the title shot against Jones.
Listen, I don't have any problem at all with Sonnen wanting to step up and "save" UFC 151 by being in the headlining event. Just not against Jones. He can fight someone else in his first fight in the weight class in 7 years, thus saving the event, and also building up his case for a future title shot.
Bottom line is that I feel like the UFC brass (Dana, Joe Silva) made a knee jerk reaction by cancelling UFC 151 before fully exploring all their alternatives. How ironic that Sonnen, Weidman, and Belfort all offered to save UFC 151. A fight between any combination of those three would have certainly been main event worthy, and would have saved 151.