UFC 151 cancelled after Jones declines new fight

The UFC cancelled its Sept. 1 pay-per-view show Thursday after light heavyweight contender Dan Henderson injured his knee and champion Jon Jones declined a replacement fight with Chael Sonnen.

The UFC cancelled its Sept. 1 pay-per-view show Thursday after light heavyweight contender Dan Henderson injured his knee and champion Jon Jones declined a replacement fight with Chael Sonnen.

UFC President Dana White was left furious with Jones and his trainer, Greg Jackson, after the UFC was forced to scrap a major card for the first time in his 11 years in charge of mixed martial arts’ dominant promotion.

“This is probably one of my all-time lows,” White said. “The one thing that I never thought in a million years would ever happen — it happened.”

White said Jones is the first UFC champion ever to turn down a match even on such short notice, calling the decision “selfish” and “disgusting.”

UFC 151 was scheduled for Sept. 1 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Jones agreed to defend his title against former champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 152 in Toronto on Sept. 22 in a rematch of their bout last December in the same city.

But that did nothing to curb White’s anger at one of his promotion’s biggest stars — and an athlete personally sponsored by the UFC. Last-minute matchup changes occur frequently in MMA shows due to injuries, and White rarely has a problem getting his tough-guy fighters to take risks.

“We’ve never, ever had a fighter refuse to fight somebody, especially a fighter who is a world champion as well as one of the top pound-for-pound guys in the world,” White said. “It’s baffling to me, and I’ve never seen it before.”

Jones and Jackson didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The 41-year-old Henderson was forced to drop out of his title shot against Jones after partially tearing a ligament in his knee during training, according to White.

Sonnen immediately agreed to take the assignment on eight days’ notice, even moving up from 185 pounds to 205 to do it. The trash-talking, attention-loving Sonnen was stopped by middleweight champion Anderson Silva on July 7 in their entertaining rematch at UFC 148, the UFC’s biggest show of the summer.

“Chael Sonnen says, ’I’ll fight him tonight,”’ White said.

“He’s that kind of a person. He puts his money where his mouth is. He goes out and delivers. He’s willing to step out and fight.”

But White said Jones and Jackson decided the champion couldn’t be ready to fight the dangerous Sonnen. White was particularly enraged by Jackson, the respected Albuquerque-based trainer of several elite MMA fighters, calling him “a sport-killer” and “a weirdo” before saying: “Greg Jackson should never be interviewed by anybody ever again, except a psychiatrist.”

Jones is among the sport’s top handful of pound-for-pound fighters after his meteoric rise to the title in March 2011 in just his eighth UFC fight, yet his previously squeaky-clean image has taken enormous hits this year after his arrest on a drunken-driving charge in May, followed by his decision to decline this fight.

The 25-year-old Jones, a former college wrestler and the brother of two NFL players, has been open about his financial motivations for fighting in recent months, saying he hopes to retire young to pursue other interests.

“Jon Jones has been one of these guys who, as much as he’s won and all the things that he’s accomplished, he’s been a champion that hasn’t been very popular, and I don’t think this is going to do wonders for his popularity,” White said.

The UFC 151 undercard featured fights for Jake Ellenberger and Germany’s Dennis Siver, yet it lacked a headline-quality bout, leading the UFC to scrap the entire show. The UFC has put on a huge slate of promotions during the first year of its new television deal with Fox, leading to criticism from fans who claim they’re getting watered-down shows.

The UFC will give refunds on all tickets, costing the promotion an enormous amount of “money that’s already been spent,” according to White, on everything from Times Square billboards to extensive television advertising. But thousands of fans who converge on the UFC’s hometown for its big events already have booked plane tickets and hotel rooms.

White is also apoplectic that the cancellation forced the cancellation or rescheduling of UFC 151’s 10 preliminary bouts, lamenting the wasted money and training time spent by the undercard fighters with a fraction of Jones’ wealth.

Charlie Brenneman, a journeyman welterweight scheduled to fight Australia’s Kyle Noke in a preliminary card bout to be aired on Facebook, tweeted at Jones: “U can send my check to PO box 198. EH NJ. Rent is due the first, so preferably by then. Thanks.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
COVID-19 death toll verges on 10,000 as second wave continues to surge

Nearly 10,000 Canadians have died due to COVID-19, a mark of the… Continue reading

The Red Deer RCMP has filed another set of charges after an alleged assault at an anti-racism rally on Sept. 20. (File photo by Advocate Staff)
More assault charges filed after Sept. 20 anti-racism rally in Red Deer

Trevor Lyle Roy faces a second set of charges stemming from the event

Your weather forecast for Thursday, August 1st, 2019. (Pixabay)
Expect a slightly windy day in Red Deer Tuesday

Expect a slightly windy day in Red Deer. Although as of noon… Continue reading

“We need to keep our hospitalization rate low. We need to keep our ICU beds open, and we need to keep people healthy and our case numbers low," says Karen Mann, Red Deer’s emergency management co-ordinator. (File photo by Advocate staff).
City says it is monitoring COVID around the clock

Following guidance from Alberta’s medical officer of health

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees were back on the job Tuesday after a provincewide wildcat strike on Monday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital workers back on the job

Red Deer hospital was one of 45 sites with picket lines

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Red Deer Rebels forward Jayden Grubbe is one of three Rebels on the NHL Central Scouting players to watch list for the 2021 NHL Draft. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Three Rebels on 2021 NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch list

A trio of Red Deer Rebels has caught scouts’ eyes ahead of… Continue reading

Kathleen Finnigan, who was named superintendent of the Red Deer Regional Catholic School Board on Tuesday, has more than 30 years of experience as an educator. (Courtesy of Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools)
Kathleen Finnigan named Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools superintendent

The Red Deer Regional Catholic School Board will continue to be led… Continue reading

(Emily Jaycox/Bashaw Star)
Wreath laying ceremony held in Manfred, Alta.

Ceremony marks 64th anniversary of Hungarian revolution, honours settlers

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre could be affected by cuts to Alberta Health Services announced by the government Tuesday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
David Marsden: Yes, we know how to do laundry

Union leaders would have us believe there’s something special about their members:… Continue reading

Most Read