White's mishandling of UFC 151 proves that UFC's competitors need a union
UFC fighters are some of the toughest athletes on the planet, but they're scared of Dana White. (US Presswire)
They're suckers, these UFC fighters. They've been brainwashed by Dana White and are too naïve to know it, and it pains me to say that because I love this sport and the fighters who do it. Professional athletes don't come more accessible or honest.
But they don't come more brainwashed, either. That's my conclusion from the fiasco of UFC 151, which was scheduled for Saturday in Las Vegas but canceled late last week because the UFC tried to milk a pay-per-view card out of one marketable fight, and when that fight fell through eight days ahead of time -- and fights fall through all the time -- the flimsy card fell apart.
This was the UFC's fault. This was UFC president Dana White's fault.
But he said it was light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones' fault -- and other UFC fighters believed him.
This is why they need a union. That's the takeaway from this UFC 151 fiasco -- not that Jon Jones is a chicken or Chael Sonnen is a gangster. The takeaway is that UFC fighters need unity. They need strength in numbers. What they need is someone to look out for their interests, because Lord knows these guys can't do it themselves.
The back-story: Jones' opponent for UFC 151, Dan Henderson, withdrew last week because of a knee injury. White found a replacement in Sonnen, a fascinating talker who has zero business fighting for the 205-pound title. Sonnen has had two title fights in his past four appearances and lost them both -- at 185 pounds. Somehow a 185-pound fighter coming off a lopsided loss, a guy who doesn't deserve to fight for the 185-pound title, probably ever again, talked his way into a title fight in a heavier weight class.
Bully for Chael Sonnen, but what was Jon Jones supposed to do? Take a no-win fight, a fight that does nothing for him if he wins but sets his career back a year or more -- and the shelf life of a fighter is measured in years, not decades -- if he loses?
And Jones could lose to Sonnen -- not because Sonnen is all of a sudden the most dangerous fighter ever, two paragraphs after I said he's unworthy of this title shot. No, Sonnen could win because anyone can win in this sport, at this level. The gloves are so small, the techniques so violent, the action so unpredictable. Chael Sonnen could do like Matt Serra did to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 69 or like Gabriel Gonzaga did to Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 70 and land a lucky blow and win the damn thing.
Point being, Jones would have been risking everything -- his belt, his reputation, his short-term career -- to take a no-upside fight on eight days notice. So Jones said no.
And the meatheads revolted.
The revolt was led by King Meathead himself, Dana White, who I like very much when he's not embarrassing his sport with a profane or misogynistic rant on camera or Twitter or wherever he goes to lose his mind. White lost his damn mind Thursday when UFC 151 fell through, putting the blame -- all of it -- on Jon Jones.
Never mind that there wasn't one fight on the card worthy of elevating to the main event once Jones-Henderson fell through. Even with Jones-Henderson, UFC 151 was being panned as one of the worst PPV cards in UFC history. Anything can happen once the cage door shuts, but on paper this card was a rip-off at $24.95 -- and the UFC was charging $54.95. Dana White and his partners have grown transparently greedy, putting on cards at an increasing pace, and the results are weak, watered-down shows unable to survive if the wrong fight falls through.
This is not Jon Jones' fault.
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