UFC Light Heavyweight Champ Jon Jones told MMAJunkie.com Thursday afternoon that he was sorry the entire UFC 151 card was cancelled, but stuck by his decision to have his next fight moved to UFC 152 on September 22nd, rather than take a new opponent on eight days notice.
“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.
“I take a lot of pride in the way I perform, and I want to put on the best performance possible every time I fight. I don’t want to go out there just to win the fight. I want to go out there to dominate. I want to make it look effortless. I want it to be a beautiful thing.”
When news came that Dan Henderson had suffered a knee injury and couldn’t fight, Chael Sonnen stepped up to fight Jones. Jones declined the fight. Jones, the youngest man to become a champ in the history of the UFC, explained his reasoning for not accepting the Sonnen fight.
“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.”
Jones also told MMA Junkie had he taken the fight on short notice against Sonnen, that he would have inadequate time to prepare since most of his coaches are with Andre Arlovski cornering him for ONE FC. “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.”
The backlash of Jones’ refusal to accept a fight on the UFC 151 card flooded Twitter and other social media with opinions from pundits, fans and fighters – with most of the commentary Dana White said he and Lorenzo Fertitta were “disgusted” with Jones during today’s media call. Chael Sonnen got on ESPN and called Jones a “little brat”. Jones the heat he’s getting for the card being cancelled comes with the turf.
“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.”
“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.
As for taking on Chael Sonnen at some point in the future, Jones said he’d accept it. “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.”