The UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones helped make history this past week. It was not good history by any means. The UFC was forced to cancel their September 1st show in Las Vegas. Jones is completely responsible for this cancellation. When his challenger went down due to injury on Thursday a wild ride began that did not slow down until Friday afternoon.
UFC President Dana White was able to get a replacement in Chael Sonnen. Jones would not face Sonnen with only 8 days before the fight. Jones’ Coach Greg Jackson tried to take the blame for not letting his fighter take the fight. With that situation Dana White was forced to cancel the show and blamed Jackson for being a “sport killer”.
The next option for the fight was Lyoto Machida. Machida was due a title shot but not this soon. It was announced that Machida would take the place of Henderson and the fight would be moved to the UFC 152 show on September 22nd in Toronto. Machida later declined and the UFC went after another former champion to fill the spot. That former champion was Shogun Rua, he too declined the fight.
With no other options for a main event fighter for Jones, Dana White chose UFC veteran Vitor Belfort. Belfort accepted and the fight will take place on the UFC 152 show. Belfort has great hands but does not have the genetic gifts that Jones possesses. Belfort is much like a Dan Henderson type fighter in the sense that he is a dangerous veteran that could win but will likely lose. This 24 hour period of insanity is a true low point for the UFC.
Traditionally when a fighter goes down due to injury the replacement is usually accepted by the remaining fighter. Jones did not want to follow suit. Because of this he will drive his appeal down with a fan base that does not really see him as a star yet. Jones is a fan favorite for the hardcore MMA fans but not casual fans who are the ones that really make or break a star and a champion at the ticket window. Jones has gone Heel (a pro wrestling term for bad guy) but he is doing it the wrong way.
MMA has had its share of heels through its history. The most recent being Brock Lesnar and Chael Sonnen. Both of those fighters know what they are doing with their characters and play the role well. They make calculated moves that make themselves the bad guys but still marketable and appealing. Jones does not have the personality or the where with all to be a true heel.
Marketing was stated as a possible reason Jones did not take the fight. Jones was worried that he may not keep his hot streak alive and possibly lose and hurt his selling potential. If that was his concern he would have taken the fight with Sonnen. Even if he lost and came back to another title shot he would be in a better light and position than he is by not taking this fight. Sonnen was the perfect opponent, he had not been training and would be moving up a weight class. Jones on the other hand would be peaking for the fight still and would have had 3 months of training under his belt. Now Jones will be know as the man responsible for destroying UFC 151.
There are many victims from Jones’ decision. The Cable companies who promoted the fight and where counting on their percentage of the PPV numbers. The UFC has also spent a lot of money promoting the fight, they even had a huge billboard at Times Square in New York City. The fighters who will have to wait on a pay day because their fight has to be moved to October or even November. The most hurt will be the fans who have spent their money to fly into Las Vegas, stay in a hotel and wait to have their tickets refunded by the UFC.
Jon Jones will likely become a villain from this situation, which for most fighters could be a positive thing. Not for Jones who needs to be liked. He recently signed a deal with Nike and when it come to merchandise if you are not liked people will not buy you things. Jones has a long road ahead of him, can he shake this situation? Maybe, he could come out on UFC 152 and knock out Belfort and everyone will forget about this like it never happened. It could be something that sticks with him his entire career and effects his earning and drawing potential.
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The UFC returned to Loas Angeles, CA and the Staples Center on Saturday night. The event was the UFC’s 4th special on the FOX network. The main show on FOX featured four fights. Two of the fights featured Light Heavywieghts that would determine who will face the winner of the Jon Jones VS Dan Henderson for the division’s championship. UFC President stated earlier this week that the fighter who looked “Most Impressive” would get the future Light Heavyweight Title shot.
The show started with a Welterweight fight between Damarques Johnson and the returning Mike Swick. Johnson dominated the fight on the ground in the 1st round. When the 2nd round began the fight quickly turned around for Swick who was able to grab Johnson’s leg and take him down. While Swick was taking Johnson down when he delivered a knockout punch to Johnson and was victorious in his return to fighting after a 2 year absence.
The next fight had Joe Lauzon defeat Jamie Varner in a Lightweight contest via submission in the 3rd round. This was an incredible back and forth fight that had both men matched up pretty evenly. Varner seemed to get tired as the fight progressed. Lauzon took advantage of Varner’s fatigue with a triangle choke in the 3rd round that forced Varner to submit. Great showing for both fighters but this fight made Lauzon look like a star.
In the 1st of 2 Light Heavyweight bouts, Lyoto Machida defeated Ryan Bader in the 2nd round via knockout. Both fighters stood up during the 1st round and neither fighter took great risk or damage. Early in the second round Machida counter punched his way to a victory when Bader took a chance at charging at Machida with strikes. Machida looked good in this fight and ended it early like he was expected to do.
The Main event and final Light Heavyweight bout took place between Shogun Rua and Brandon Vera. This fight was won by Rua with a knockout in the 4th round. This fight was mostly dominated by Rua who had Vera on the ground for a lot of the fight and landed more strikes. Vera did looked good in the fight with the amount of punishment he was able to take and still push through. Rua won when he knocked Vera down to the ground with a punch against the cage and was able to finish it by punishing Vera. Rua admitted he was getting tired towards the 2nd round and it showed.
Lyoto Machida gets a future title shot.
(Photo By: Josh Hedges/Getty Images)
Dana White after the show was over announced that he felt Machida was “most impressive” and would recieve the future title shot. White’s decision was the obvious and correct one. Jon Jones is likely to be the Champion who will face Machida later this year or early next year. Jones does have to fight Dan Henderson who is a legend in the sport but probably will not be able to defeat Jones. Jones has previously defeated Machida so the fight will be difficult for the UFC to sell. That is the nature of the beast however and the UFC will just have to find a way to market the fight.
This was a solid show with good fights that did not go to decision. The UFC needs to continue to put good shows on FOX so that they can attract more casual fans. It would be to their advantage to put bigger fights on the FOX shows to expand the audience. The UFC feels their main focus should be PPV and not the network specials. At least this turned out to be a good show but the UFC needs to step up their game on FOX if they want to create new fans.
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UFC Champion Jon “Bones” Jones
On Saturday morning at 5am EST Jon “Bones” Jones was arrested in Binghamton, New York and charged with Driving Under The Influence. He reportedly crashed his Bentley into a pole and was arrested at the scene of the accident. No other vehicles were involved in the accident. Jones is from the nearby town of Ithica, New York. Jones’ management has confirmed he was arrested for a DUI but have not confirmed the details.
Jones is currently the UFC’s Light heavy Weight Champion. He last defended his title at last months UFC 145 in Atlanta. He defeated challenger Rashad Evans at that event.
As of the moment Jones is slated to defend his title against former Pride and Strikeforce Champion Dan Henderson at UFC 151 in September.
There is no word yet from the UFC of what actions if any that the company will take. This is not a good situation for the UFC from the get go. The UFC will likely face pressure to take action. That could mean a fine or even worse a suspension for Jones. Jones is the one fighter who is very talented, very young and could carry the company through the decade if he can continue to stay healthy. Although he is not very charismatic and has not proven to be a big draw on Pay Per View, he does have a lot of potential to sell them a lot of PPV buys in the Future. The UFC’s primary source of revenue is on PPV.
The UFC has had nothing but problems when it comes to fighters who are booked on shows pulling out. A lot events in the last year and a half have seen many fighters pull out due to injuries in training and in a few instances failed drug tests. This may be one situation where a fighter has to be taken out do to bad decision making.
With the television ratings declining and their deal with FOX not looking so great, this is a terrible thing for the UFC to have to deal with. The UFC President Dana White has never been one to shy away from talking about a situation. I expect White to address this situation in the next week.
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Tagged atlanta, bones, champion, dan henderson, dana white, fighting, ithica, jon jones, mma, new york, president, rashad evans, ufc, ufc 145, ufc 151, ufc president, watch sports live, www.sport