Ok, so now that we’ve all had a chance to sleep on the whole “Jon Jones sucks” situation, let’s approach this with a less emotional mindset.
Jones had every right to turn down the Chael Sonnen fight. He was training for a specific opponent, Dan Henderson, who hardly ever shoots for his takedowns, whereas Chael has one of the best shots in the game. Ok, I get it, different opponent, different strategy. He had every right, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. I have every right to pass an injured person in the street because I’m late for an appointment and stopping to help would be inconvenient. But does that make it right? Sometimes you just got to take one for the team, and because his presence on what was otherwise a piss-poor card makes HIM the team leader. His decision sank the event.
That doesn’t abdicate the UFC’s responsibility in this mess, mind you. They put forth a substandard card because Jones was on it and they knew him and Dan Henderson alone would sell it, so why waste other draws on a card that was guaranteed to sell at least 600,000 PPV’s? They hedged their bets on one fight, and it backfired. That’s the risk they chose to take. I couldn’t give two shits if the UFC loses a few million bucks. Business is full of risks. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and as a successful company, the UFC wins much more than it loses. I’m sure it’s painful, but they can absorb this loss. It’s not about that.
And it’s not about Jones being a “company man” either. Yes, he has to make the decisions that are best for him, but as a champion he should be willing to give a little more of himself. It’s not just about a belt. It’s about living up to an ideal. Fighters love to talk about “the heart of a champion,” or someone being a “real champion,” because there ARE distinctions. Jon Jones is the UFC light-heavyweight champion, but because he was so willing to let the ship sink, and throw his fellow fighters overboard in the process, he is not a true champion.
Dana White should own up to his own culpability in this debacle, and even though they’re already taking a bath on this cancellation, they should pay each fighter their show money. That’s their bare-bones responsibility to their troops. Jones isn’t required to pay Charlie Brenneman’s salary or buy school clothes for Jeff Houghland’s kid, but he should feel like shit for bailing out when his brothers-in-arms needed him most, and he should reassess just what it is that he fights for. If its greenbacks, then he’s doing just fine, but if it’s also something more substantial, like that pious tattoo across his chest would seem to indicate, then he has a long way to go and much soul-searching to do.