Photo via Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
I've got my fire extinguisher ready because I know I'm about to get flamed.
Jon Jones is a coward.
Flat out, no questions asked, end of discussion.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight kingpin turned down a fight with former Middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen after Jones' original opponent, Dan Henderson, had to pull out of the UFC 151 main event because of a knee injury.
Was it smart? Jones had spent weeks, if not months, preparing for "Hendo" and would have had to completely overhaul his strategy with only a week remaining to adequately prepare for the skill set Sonnen would present.
Is "Bones" even entirely to blame for the cancellation?
A huge finger can be pointed at the promotion, hell-bent on putting together as many pay-per-view (PPV) events -- 17 in 2011 with more than a dozen by the time this year's out -- which has left most of their offerings top-heavy. Years ago, when a main event was nixed, the co-main event would simply step up, but something tells me fans aren't clamoring to pay $50 to see Jake Ellenberger take on Jay Hieron.
But, bottom line, had Jones agreed to take on Sonnen, there would still be a UFC event next weekend.
He could have been a hero, but instead has become a zero in the eyes of many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans.
I'm reminded of a rock concert from 1992 in Montreal. Metallica and Guns n' Roses were each at the height of their popularity and had crammed nearly 80,000 fans into Olympic Stadium for a co-headlining tour.
The James Hetfield-led band performed first and everything was going according to plan until a pyrotechnic mishap led to the singer/guitarist suffering second and third degree burns over his arm.
The band canceled the remainder of their set and left those aforementioned 80,000 fans to wait out the rest of the show. This is where Axl Rose and company could have saved the day. They could have stormed the stage, played the set of their lives and disintegrated any ill will remaining in those who felt short changed the full main attraction.
Instead, the band took the stage several hours after the incident, played a few songs, complained about the equipment and left the stage.
Montreal burned that night.
"Bones" could have saved UFC 151. He could have made countless fans happy -- fans who made plans to fly into "Sin City" over Labor Day weekend with the fights being the main fixture of their festivties or fans who were hoping to see the new guard take on the old, a clash between the seemingly unstoppable Jones and the man who knocked out Fedor Emelianenko, Henderson.
He is, after all, in the business of pleasing fans.
He could have accepted the fight with Sonnen and been heralded a savior but he's more concerned with preserving his "greatness." Great fighters step up when they're needed, even if it's not, technically, the "smart" thing to do. Great fighters sometimes throw caution to the wind. Great fighters inspire.
Great fighters aren't cowards like Jon Jones.