I’m sure there have been crazier days in the fight business over the years, but at the moment I can’t recall one living up to what happened in the last 24 hours.
In that time, the UFC lost a main event, got a main event, lost an EVENT, got a new main event on a new date, lost that, and now got a new one. Hopefully that’s the end of the madness for now and for the foreseeable future, but suffice to say that the old sports adage rang true in this one: you couldn’t tell the players without a scorecard.
So consider this your scorecard…
Wednesday night / Thursday AM – Rumors begin circulating that the UFC’s number one light heavyweight contender, Dan Henderson, has been injured and won’t be able to compete at UFC 151 on September 1st. Those rumors ultimately prove to be true, and after doctors determine that Hendo is unable to compete, the Californian is pulled from the fight. After a search for a new foe by UFC officials, the only one to accept the fight is former middleweight contender Chael Sonnen. Jones declines the fight, but the UFC is still confident that “Bones” will come around.
Thursday AM – The UFC’s PR department sends out a media advisory for a 2pm ET teleconference to discuss the current UFC 151 situation.
Thursday PM – Jones has decided not to take the Sonnen fight. He later tells MMAJunkie’s John Morgan, “Dan Henderson got hurt, and the fight was canceled. 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.”
Thursday PM – UFC president Dana White meets with the media and delivers the shocking news – that UFC 151 has been canceled. “This is probably one of my all-time lows as president of the UFC over the last 11 years,” said White. “For the first time in 11 years, we’re going to cancel an event.” The next course of action is to move Jones to September 22nd’s UFC 152 event in Toronto to face Lyoto Machida in a rematch of their UFC 140 bout last year, and to begin moving the UFC 151 undercard bouts to upcoming shows.
Thursday PM – So far, so good…no more changes, but the Internet is buzzing with thousands of comments and opinions on the day’s events. Remarkably, the star emerging from the scenario is Sonnen, who makes the media rounds and takes shots at Jones, his target in the division he’s returning to – 205 pounds. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Sonnen. “I’ve never seen a champion turn down a fight. I’ve never seen a main event turn down a fight, and I’ve never seen a guy that’s healthy and went through a training camp turn down a fight. All three happened today with the same person. And it was so surprising.”
Thursday PM / Friday AM – Rousing many out of a sound sleep or greeting them in the morning was the news that Machida was not going to take the Jones fight in Toronto. Instead, another former champion from Brazil, Vitor Belfort, was pulled from his UFC 153 bout with Alan Belcher to face Jones on September 22nd. Wrote “The Phenom” on Twitter after the news broke, “I will fight Jones. I want to thank his camp and him to accept this big challenge for me. I am so happy to deliver a big show for the whole world.”
So to recap, Hendo out, Sonnen in, Sonnen out, Machida in, Machida out, Belfort in.
That’s it for now. Then again, it’s only 9:36am eastern time on Friday.