Following Dana White’s announcement of UFC 151’s cancellation due to Jon Jones’ unwillingness to fight Chael Sonnen, the internet exploded with a backlash of criticism of the champ. Not only was Jones in hot water with his employers, but with fans, and fighters alike. Charlie Brenneman tweeted “@JonnyBones u can send my check to PO box 198. EH NJ. Rent is due the first,” and the same sentiment can be seen all the way down to commentator Joe Rogan. “People coming to my show at the Mandalay Bay on Friday, Mandalay is cancelling the show as well.”
Jones has now responded to the online dismay of his actions.
“Dan Henderson got hurt, and the fight was canceled,” Jones told MMAjunkie.com. “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,” Jones said. “I feel terrible, but it also wasn’t my decision to cancel the whole card. I don’t make those decisions.
In regards to denying the recent middleweight, Chael Sonnen on late notice, Jones felt that stylistically it was not a good role of the dice for himself.
“Chael is completely different fighter,” Jones said. “This is war. This is strategy. You have to go in there prepared and know that you did your homework. I wouldn’t be the same warrior if I just jumped in there blindly and was cutting weight while I was trying to prepare for the fight.”
“Greg Jackson wasn’t going to show up until Friday. Coach (Mike) Winkeljohn wasn’t going to be there until Wednesday or Thursday. I would have been pretty much on my own trying to prepare for a new opponent. That’s just not the best way to prepare.”
Despite the aftermath, Jones stands behind his decision whole heartily.
“If this was my first fight in the UFC and I really didn’t have a choice and they needed somebody to step in last minute, if it was that type of scenario, then I’d probably more open to it,” Jones said. “But I’m a UFC champion, and I need to perform that way. If I would have taken this fight, that would have been letting my ego get in the way and not using my intellect. This is war, and you have to go in there prepared.”
Jones admits that he is not impervious to the verbal assaults that have been sent his way.
“The criticism does bother me, but I have to stand by my decision. I have to be the man that I am. With such large audiences comes great criticism. There will be a lot of scrutiny, but I’ve got to do what makes me happy and feels right to me. At the end of the day, I have to make the best choice for me and my family.”
“This is a professional sport. It’s not just a backyard fight. You put everything on the line every time you step into the cage, and I now have a new mission. I’m all-in now, and I won’t give anything less than my full effort.”
Apologetic of the affected fans and fighters, yet not for making the decision to turn down the fight.
“I apologize to the people that lost money on tickets and travel and things like that,” Jones said. “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.”
“Dan Henderson got hurt, and our fight was canceled. As difficult as it is to deal with everything that’s happened, I just didn’t feel like I had enough time to prepare both physically and mentally for a fight with a new opponent. I just didn’t feel I had enough to prepare properly and perform at my best. Whether Chael Sonnen actually deserves a title shot really isn’t my place to say. But if he wants to fight on Sept. 22, then I’m fine with that.”