Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-US PRESSWIRE
UFC President Dana White is getting fed up with fighters under contract with his leading mixed martial arts (MMA) organization who are declining matches when it needs them to step up -- on short notice or not -- and fill important fight card holes.
From top-tier competitors like light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to middle-of-the-road athletes like heavyweight Cheick Kongo, a fighter turning down a bout is becoming more of a trend in today's mixed martial arts (MMA) climate as opposed to an isolated incident.
Obviously, the increased amount of events Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is scheduling leads to more injuries, which requires more replacements, which ultimately leads to situations where fighters decline certain match ups.
However, in recent months, it seems more and more fighters have been unwilling to step up when the UFC needs them most, a point that is not going unnoticed by the UFC president.
"[Turning down fights] is a lot more normal for guys who are worried about losing," White told MMAmania.com in a media scrum following the UFC 154 post-fight press conference in Montreal. "Guys who feel like they're in a position where they lose, you know what I mean? You're either fighters of you're not.
"You come out and you fight and put it all on the line and if you win, you win. If you lose, back to the drawing board. I mean that's the business that they're in. But, you turn down a fight then you turn down a fight."
The fighter who most recently drew White's ire is Cheick Kongo, a heavyweight fighter who was unwilling to take a bout against Roy Nelson on one-month's notice at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale on Dec. 15, 2012.
While the UFC boss considers turning down a fighter regardless of the circumstances to be a black and white issue, Kongo seems to think otherwise.
"I did NOT REFUSE to FIGHT Roy Nelson," Kongo wrote on his official Twitter account. "I REFUSED to TAKE A FIGHT on SHORT NOTICE. Which is NOT THE SAME AT ALL."
White says the December bout with Nelson was the second fight offer in a row the Frenchman has turned down.
To White, it doesn't matter what Kongo's reasoning for turning down the fight is, was or will possibly be in the future. He simply just does not like this precedent of his athletes trying to pick and choose, believing it goes against what makes fighters, "fighters."
"Listen, if you turn down fights, I'm going to (expletive) say it," said White. "And if you turn down a fight at least admit you turned down a fight.
"He turned down a fight, whether it's on short notice or not, he turned down a fight."