What a day.
It all started with some rumors which grew into a massive wildfire out of control. Ultimate Fighting Championship tried to save its UFC 151 card, but UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones turned down a last minute title fight against Chael Sonnen on eight days' notice.
With such little support on the rest of the main card and the undercard, the UFC was forced to cancel a pay-per-view event for the first time in its history.
The conference call was full of drama and emotion as UFC President Dana White explained the decision to cancel the event and made sure to dump a giant share of the blame on the champion Jon Jones.
We've got the complete transcript of all of White's quotes from today's call posted after the jump:
Dana White: This is probably one of my all-time lows as being President of the UFC over the last 11 years. For the first time in 11 years we're gonna cancel an event. This Saturday's fight at Mandalay Bay is being cancelled. Dan Henderson has a partial tear in his MCL and couldn't continue. He tried to train. He tried to continue to work out. He saw doctors and there was nothing we could do to save that fight. One of the things that you guys have heard me brag about a million times, how UFC doesn't have to cancel events, we can always find a replacement. For somebody to fight Jon Jones on eight days' notice is tough to do, but to be totally honest with you guys, one guy did. Not only when we called him did he say, 'I'll take the fight,' he said, 'I'll fly to Las Vegas tonight and fight him," and that was Chael Sonnen. Chael Sonnen accepted the fight with Jon Jones, wanted the fight bad. As of 8-9 o'clock last night, we had a fight. We here at the UFC started working, creating different commercials, PR started to crank up. I was gonna do this call and obviously it was gonna be a different call this morning but the one thing that I never thought in a million years would happen, happened. Jon Jones said, 'I'm not fighting Chael Sonnen with eight days notice." Again, something that's never happened in UFC history. A guy who's a world champion and considered one of the pound-for-pound best turns down a fight. That has never happened either. So right now what's happening is this fight is cancelled. It'll be Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida on Saturday September 22nd on the Toronto, Canada card at UFC 152.
-On if Jones knew what would happen if he turned down the Sonnen fight:
Dana White: Believe me, I haven't slept at all since last night. [Jon Jones] has been hit with some options. He knows what the consequences were and what would happen.
-On if Machida got the call to step in on eight days' notice too:
Dana White: When it was going down and we were trying to make the fight, Machida was actually in the air, then landed in a connector fight for Brazil. He was already gone. He was in the air. I can accept that. I can accept why Machida didn't take the fight. Completely different circumstances. Completely different story.
Dana White: When [Jon Jones] got the call he said, 'I've got to sit down and talk to my coaches.' His coach Greg Jackson says there's no way you take this fight. You don't take this fight on eight days' notice. It would be the biggest mistake of your entire career. Wow. Chael Sonnen is a 185-pounder who wants to move up to 205 who hasn't trained a day for this fight and the fight is in eight days and he says he'll fly to Vegas tonight the supposed pound-for-pound third best fighter in the world, the world champion. How much faith do you have in your champion and your guy? I literally just bumped into Greg Jackson the other day and I was kinda joking around about some of the things I've said. I'll tell you what. I'll go on the record saying this guy is a fucking sport-killer. This guy is from another planet. I've never even seen anything like it in my life.
-On the injury to Dan Henderson:
Dana White: He's got a partial tear in his MCL. He'd like a little more time to take this fight but we can't be in the same position. We can't be sitting around all worried about if Dan can be ready for the 22nd and he said the same thing. We'll see what happens. It's not like Dan has to go in and he needs surgery but he's got a tear in his MCL and he has problems with lateral movement and some other positions so he couldn't do the fight.
Dana White: Jon Jones is in shape and he's ready to go. Machida is next in line and Dan's hurt so that's the fight that's gonna happen.
Dana White: It's in Jon Jones' head that he didn't prepare for this guy. I don't know know, man. In the history of the UFC, Tito's been the most difficult guy in the history of the company since I've been here and Tito Ortiz didn't not take fights.
-On how Jones' image will be affected by his decision:
Dana White: I don't think it's great. The first fight ever cancelled in UFC history since we owned the company and the first champion to ever turn down a match.
-On if Jones said he didn't take the fight because of Greg Jackson:
Dana White: That is exactly why he didn't take the fight.
-On Jon Jones' 'business-like' approach to fighting:
Dana White: Let me tell you what. (laughs) I always laugh when I hear a fighter say, "I'm a businessman." No you're not. You're a fighter. You see moves like this and other things where if they were real businessmen, we wouldn't be having this conference call right now.
-On if Dan Henderson will still be number one contender when he comes back:
Dana White: You know how that always works. Look at Rashad. If you don't get that shot right when it's there and available, all kinds of crazy things can happen, or maybe it will be available right when he comes back. Who knows? I can't answer that question.
-On why they decided to scrap the entire event:
Dana White: Because we're eight, seven, I don't know how many days away we are to the fight and this thing went right down to the wire right before we got on this call. We don't have time. We're strapped for time. If Dan Henderson would have gotten hurt two weeks' ago, this would have been a different story. But eight days and Jon Jones acting like this and all this other bullshit, we can't do it.
-On if Jones' decision affects UFC's decision to sponsor him
Dana White: I was never a fan of it in the first place. Believe me, I'm the wrong guy to ask about UFC sponsorship and shit. I'm the wrong guy to ask because I hate it.
-On if Chael knew about Henderson beforehand
Dana White: Not at all. Not even a little bit. Even when I called Chael I had to track him down because his girlfriend's father had a stroke and he was wherever that guy lives. Fighting Jon Jones was the last thing on his mind. It blew him away when I called him.
-On what happens to the undercard fights
Dana White: We'll figure it out. I don't know what the fallout is gonna be from this thing from the undercard but we'll figure it out.
-How this changes his relationship with Jon Jones:
Dana White: A lot
-On how long they knew Henderson was hurt:
Dana White: I went to the Strikeforce event on Saturday, talked to him and everything was cool and he started getting in touch with me on Sunday. He didn't have my new number. He had my old number and didn't get in touch with me until Monday or Tuesday or whatever. He was trying to work through it, tape it, do all kinds of different things. As soon as I heard about it we flew him to Vegas, he saw Doc Sanders and Sanders told us he had a partial tear in his MCL. Can he fight with it? I guess if he really wanted to go out there but he wouldn't be 100 percent. He had limited lateral movement. I guess even in the top position in wrestling, his knee hurt him really bad.
-The ramifications of cancelling the show:
Dana White: It's a major, major deal. We lose shitloads of money, money that's already been spent. We're eight days out. We spent shitloads of money on this fight. I could sit here and we've been talking about it all morning about how far this goes and how bad it hurts but I don't know because we've never done it. I don't know what I don't know yet.
-If tickets will get refunded:
Dana White: They'll get refunded. Just if you were going to a boxing match or a concert and the thing got cancelled. You call Ticketmaster and everything gets refunded. Cancel your flights and hopefully everything is refundable and you can switch them to Toronto or another fight if you want to.
-How long ago the decision was made
Dana White: An hour ago.
-If a more bankable co-main event, if they would have still gone ahead with the card.
Dana White: I don't know. I just think when we're selling the Jon Jones title fight. This card had to be cancelled. Where we're at right now, the thing had to be cancelled. We've never ever had a fighter refuse to fight somebody especially someone considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound fighter int he world, just flat out refuse to fight a guy. Never happened. We're in a business where if I say to you guys all the time, every day when I get out of bed crazy shit happens that we have to deal with. Everyone keeps saying, 'There's too much this, there's too much this." We build this. We know exactly what's going on in this industry next week, next month, everything else. Things pop up like injuries and apparently guys who don't want to fight anybody but it has nothing to do with the way business has been run. I've spent the entire morning and the afternoon yesterday at Fox and then today dealing with this bullshit and we've got things going on that has nothing to do with too many cards and cards stretched too thin.
-How his relationship has been affected with Jones
Dana White: Jon Jones has been one of these guys with as much as he's won and all the things he's accomplished in a short amount of time, he burst onto the scene a year and a half ago. He's ripped though the top guys. He's been a champion that hasn't been very popular, you know? I don't think this is going to do wonders for his popularity. As far as his relationship with us, me and Lorenzo are both disgusted.
-His feelings on Sonnen
Dana White: Chael's a lunatic. I called Chael and he said he'd fly to Las Vegas tonight and fight him at Mandalay Bay or any other casino he'd like me to fight him at. Did I think that the Chael Sonnen fight made sense as far as the title and everything else? You know, no, but these guys have been talking smack on twitter back and forth to each other and it's a fight I thought people would be interested in and Chael is the guy who accepted it. I said, "Yeah, I'll make this fight." Chael was pumped. Chael was excited for this fight. Chael told me [Jones] was a mental midget and he'll beat him mentally first. He also told me, Chael said, "Tell Jon Jones there won't be any spinning back fists in this fight. Chael Sonnen only falls down once." (laughs)
-If he thinks Jones is scared to lose his belt
Dana White: I don't know. I don't know why a guy who is a world champion and considered by many the pound for pound best wouldn't fight anybody. It's baffling to me. I've never seen it by anyone else. I don't know.
Dana White: I also said Chael will not talk his way to the title but the thing about Chael Sonnen is: this is the type of guy that when things are normal and going the way they should go and guys aren't getting injured, Chael Sonnen would have had to beat three nasty guys at least to get to Jon Jones, but in the heat of the moment when things are going down, this is the guy that you pick up the phone and call and he will fight anybody. This isn't a guy that just talks and shoots his mouth off. A guy that others won't fight on short notice, Chael Sonnen says "I'll fight him tonight." He's that kind of a person. He puts his money where his mouth is. He talks the craziest shit I've ever seen talked in this sport and he goes out and delivers. He's willing to step out and fight. I really respect that about the guy.
-On if there would be backlash if Jones had accepted a fight with Jones
Dana White: There's gonna be people that want to see it and people that don't want to see it, don't. When we put together a fight, not everyone on the planet is going "yeah, that's the greatest fight ever. We've got to see it!" Some people are gonna want to see it and some people won't. I don't think that everybody was gonna want to see that Chael Sonnen fight but I think by Friday, Chael Sonnen was gonna convince most people that he was gonna win.
Dana White: It's huge. The prelims were gonna air on FX and all the marketing that's been spent. We don't play. We spent some money. We've got billboards in Time Square, New York, all the money. You've seen television ads that've been running. The list goes on and on. It's a massive, massive hit.
-On contract stipulations:
Dana White: Being a fight promoter and being in the business that we're in, you can't make somebody fight. I can't make you fight. You're either a fighter or you're not. This is what we all do for a living. I have a building here in Las Vegas that 250 people have been busting their ass working hard to promote this fight. Not just for Jon Jones but for everyone on this card. Good for you Jon Jones. You've got some money and can afford not to take this fight but there are a bunch of guys on the undercard where this is how they feed their family. This is how they make a living and the UFC has spent shitloads of money to promote this fight and you don't feel like it for whatever reason. You won't fight. I can't make you fight, but it's probably not a good idea to not do it.
-On what Jones had to say about fighting Machida
Dana White: I can tell you this right now. He ain't turning down the Machida fight. If I get a call today that says he doesn't want to fight Machida, we'll have another conference call later this afternoon. I'll have another media call and it won't be good. We should have the bout agreement back right now.
-If Jones asked for more money first before declining
Dana White: He did not ask me for more money
-If Chael would have fought someone else to save the card
Dana White: No, who else would I bring in? This was a title fight for for the light heavyweight title. The thing I know is, if I did the Chael Sonnen fight, there would be people that liked it, people that wouldn't, but here's what I do know. Chael Sonnen would have showed up, fought his ass off and tried to win. Chael Sonnen wants to be a world champion. That's the kind of guy I like. Those are the type of fighters the fans like. They want to be world champions. I'll fucking call Chael up right now and say the fight was tonight and I've got a whole roster full of guys like that who will fight at the drop of a hat for any opportunity. Those are the guys that I like. Those are the guys that I respect and those are the guys that built this company and this sport.
-On moving the title fight to Toronto
Dana White: We had a great fight fall off the Toronto card. By the time the guys were gonna be ready, we moved it to Fox. We've been waiting to add another fight to that card, well there you go. It didn't work out for Vegas and it didn't work out this weekend but it worked out beautiful for Toronto.
-On what he expects
Dana White: I don't know what to expect. I expect Machida to come out like somebody possessed. He's made it very clear to me and to his management through me about how much he wants this fight back. He feels he did a lot of shit wrong in the first fight and obviously he did in the Jones fight and he wants to correct that. We'll see what happens. I don't know what to expect from Jon Jones anymore.
-How other fighters will react
Dana White: This is one of the most selfish, disgusting decisions that doesn't just affect you. This is affecting 16 other lives, their families, kids are going back to school. The list goes on and on of all the things, the money that was spent for fighters to train and the list goes on and on. Like I said, I don't think this is going to make Jon Jones popular with the fans, sponsors, cable distributors, television network executives or other fighters.
-If something changed with Jon Jones
Dana White: Yup, apparently.
-On Greg Jackson
Dana White: I'm very confused by his whole fucking business plan. I don't give a shit what Greg Jackson thinks. This guy is a fucking weirdo man. Turning down a fucking fight, saying if he doesn't turn down a fight with Chael Sonnen it would be the biggest mistake of his entire career because he's not ready for that guy? Greg Jackson should never be interviewed by anybody ever again except by a psychiatrist.
That's a wrap. Thanks for stopping by!