UFC 151, scheduled for September 1st in Las Vegas, has been canceled. Dan Henderson was scheduled to face champion Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title but had to pull out of the fight with a partially torn MCL. Jones then refused to fight Chael Sonnen, who had agreed to fight the champion on nine days notice, on the advice of his trainer Greg Jackson who said that Jones accepting the fight would be "the biggest mistake of his career".
Well, judging from the vitriolic reaction in a media call from UFC president Dana White, declining the fight may have been the biggest mistake of Jones' career. During the call, the intense White called Jackson "a f*cking sport killer" and said that Tito Ortiz, who was exceptionally hard to deal with, never turned down a fight.
While Jones is trying to protect his "brand" (or whatever), he has pissed off a large amount of people by refusing to take a fight with Sonnen. The 20 fighters on the undercard of UFC 151 now won't get paid. Three of those fighters, Danny Castillo, Charlie Brenneman and Shane Roller, were less than pleased at losing a payday. Loudmouth middleweight contender Michael Bisping called attention to him opting to fight Sonnen on eight days notice (this past April) while Jones wouldn't.
The UFC has also essentially flushed thousands (potentially millions?) of dollars down the drain in promotions for the fight, which apparently included a billboard in Times Square among other advertising. The UFC now has to refund the money to fans who bought tickets for the event, which have been on sale since July 13th. Fans that planned on traveling to the event now have to worry about canceling flights and hotels nine days out. Pay-per-view providers now have a hole in their schedule for September 1st, and FX now has a two-hour hole in their schedule at 8 PM, when they were scheduled to air the preliminary fights for the event.
By not taking this fight, Jones may have planted an axe in the back of his brand. That coveted Nike sponsorship deal he finally attained could get tarnished. Jones will be defending his title on September 22nd in Toronto against Lyoto Machida (who Jones just beat a year ago), and that is a much less desirable matchup than the planned title defense against Henderson. In making a "good business move" Jones has royally pissed off nearly everyone in the MMA community.
The cancelation of one fight card isn't going to kill the UFC by any means. But it's going to have a huge effect on the way the company does business going forth.
[h/t: MMA Fighting]