Photo: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
UFC 151's cancellation has resulted in a steady flow of conflicting quotes, blame shifting and general nonsense. After Dana White blasted Jon Jones on the cancellation media call for turning down a late notice fight with Dan Henderson, Jones and his representation went silent before finally trying to shift the blame to Dan Henderson for not notifying the UFC earlier about his injury. Dana soon joined in, placing a portion of the blame on Henderson as well.
We've also seen Jones and Dana shift tones toward the other repeatedly, from a kind of cold understanding to anger, back to understanding. And now, Jon is using some stiff language toward the UFC president again.
Via the Montreal Gazette:
"I had to do what's right for myself by turning down that fight, Dana had to do what was right for himself by putting the blame on everyone else except for himself," Jones said by phone Wednesday. "The lesson to be learned is, at the end of the day, you have to protect yourself and your family."
"I think in the future, this can make me and Dana even better off," Jones said. "For him to get out how he felt about me in that situation, it will help me look at things more business-oriented. A lot of good can come out of it. Fighters can learn the lesson of doing what's best for themselves and not feeling like puppets. I think the UFC has learned a lesson of making sure they stay loyal to the fans and give them full cards."
I'm a bit of a PR nerd, so this is an interesting bit of work from Jones.
It's a little bit of a more constructed approach to the media side of the situation by Jones, something I've been saying the champion has desperately needed lately. The language is a little choppy, and maybe still comes across a little "brattish." But, it covers a lot of the bases on defending himself.
The UFC chose to structure the card the way they did where there wasn't another fight that could be placed in the main event slot following Jones/Henderson falling apart. To have sat back without making this point in solid language while the promotion framed him as taking food out of the mouths of the families of all the other 151 fighters as long as they did was a big misstep.
Regardless of if you think that Jones should have taken the Sonnen fight because he'd have ran through him with ease (which I do think would have happened), he did have the right to turn it down. And his statements should have been structured around the idea that he has to make decisions he is comfortable with and that his primary obligation is to himself and his family. It's not his obligation to accept situations he isn't comfortable with simply because the UFC didn't have a well structured card.
I also like the language about this being the realization that the UFC is not a family and that he needs to look at it as a business. It gets across a sense of a pending "new era" in fighter/promotion relations.
For once, I feel like there is a valuable statement from the Jones camp.