During Thursday’s UFC 152 pre-fight press conference, which UFC President Dana White wasn’t able to attend, Jon Jones stated the organization never informed him they were going to cancel UFC 151 if he declined a last-second fight against Chael Sonnen to salvage the September 1st event.
“I really don’t know,” Jones said after taking seven long seconds contemplating the question. “I don’t know if it would have made much of a difference if they had told me. But they didn’t tell me that they were going to cancel the fight.”
White informed FUEL TV that Jones knew exactly what was going to happen if he shunned Sonnen.
“I’m glad he said some things,” said White. “I don’t think he would have said that if I was there. It was false that he didn’t know that UFC 151 would be canceled if he didn’t take the fight. I told him it would.
“I think he’s acting like he’s taking it all very lightly. I don’t know if he’s embarrassed. There was a lot of collateral damage from the fallout. He needs to take it seriously. There’s been a lot of fans turn on him.”
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The two met after today's weigh ins, and according to multiple reports, the conversation went well, giving hope that the relationship between the sport's most powerful figure and what is destined to be its biggest star can move forward positively. Whether fans come around to Jones remains to be seen. The boos and chants of "Jon Jones sucks" at the weigh ins, indicate that that may take a while longer.
Jones listened carefully to the cat calls at the weigh ins, and moved his thumb down and up in response. Floyd Mayweather Jr has said he doesn't care if the fans love him or hate him, as the price of a PPV is the same. But Jones appears cut from a kinder cloth, and is clearly reaching out to the fans with his side of the story.
Some of the most financially successful fighters in history, from The Great John L. Sullivan, to Jack Dempsey, to Muhammad Ali have suffered periods of extraordinary unpopularity, but given the young state of MMA, and that its existence was so tenuous for so long, it would be good for all if the light heavyweight champion could once again regain fan celebration.
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