Yesterday afternoon, UFC president Dana White announced that they were forced to cancel UFC 151 following an injury to headliner Dan Henderson. The biggest factor in the decision to cancel the event was, undoubtedly, Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones' decision to turn down a late-notice fight against former Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen. With the title fight of the table and a summarily weak supporting card, the UFC had few options but to nix the event. Dana White did not appreciate having his hand forced and lashed out against Jones in response. His vitriol was supported by a hefty percentage of the MMA fanbase.
Last night, MMA Junkie caught up with Jones for an explanation on his decision and a response to the criticism:
Dan Henderson got hurt, and the fight was canceled. I signed a contract a long time ago to fight Dan Henderson. That's what I studied for, and that's what I prepared myself for. To take a fight with a different opponent in which I would basically have three days of training before traveling and then starting to cut weight I just thought would be the dumbest idea ever. I wouldn't have been properly prepared.
I definitely apologize to the other fighters on the card. I feel terrible, but it also wasn't my decision to cancel the whole card. I don't make those decisions.
I apologize to the people that lost money on tickets and travel and things like that. I don't apologize for my decision, but I do apologize for the way it affected people. I hope people can understand I was just trying to do the best thing for my career.
I'm moving forward. I'm continuing to work, and I'm working on transforming my body from great shape to phenomenal shape. My goal now is to beat Lyoto better than I did the first time. I want to be a better version of myself, and I'm looking forward to it.
Unfortunately for Jon Jones, former champion Lyoto Machida declined the invitation to fight for the title at UFC 152. Late last night, news broke that Vitor Belfort would be the one to fight for the Light Heavyweight strap on September 22. It turns out that Machida had not accepted the fight at the time of White's announcement and decided he was not ready to face fight for the belt. The UFC rallied one more time and pulled Belfort form his October fight against Alan Belcher.
Vitor Belfort was last seen at UFC 142 punishing Anthony Johnson for weighing in 12 pounds over the 185 lb. limit. Belfort is 3-1 since his return to the UFC, with his only loss coming to Middleweight champion Anderson Silva. However, it's been years since The Phenom has competed at Light Heavyweight. In fact, his fight with Jones on September 22 will mark the 5th anniversary since he last competed in the division.
SBN coverage of UFC 151: Jones vs. Henderson
SBN coverage of UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort