Why is Vitor Belfort fighting Jon Jones at UFC 152 and not Chael Sonnen?

Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Chael Sonnen in the ring prior to his fight against Anderson Silva (not pictured) during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Along this bumpy path that has taken us from Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson at UFC 151 on Sept. 1, 2012, in Las Vegas, Nevada, to Jones vs. Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 on Sept. 22 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, there have been many twists and turns.

That includes Chael Sonnen very nearly finding himself with a 205-pound title fight just over one month removed from a middleweight championship loss to Anderson Silva.

The manner in which he almost sneaked his way into that spot was genius. Sonnen had started going after Jones on Twitter, building a feud between the two in an attempt to help sell a fight down the road. Except Henderson suffered a knee injury -- one Sonnen undoubtedly knew about before the rest of us, which likely led to much of his trash talk -- and was forced to pull out.

This led to the powers that be at UFC to scramble to find a new opponent. So they called Sonnen, who immediately accepted the fight and offered to fly out to Las Vegas post haste to begin promoting it.

Except Jones turned it down.

He would go on to say it made no sense to fight Sonnen on just days notice and the entire UFC 151 event was cancelled as a result, although we later learned Silva attempted to play Superman and swoop in to save the show. This led to a great deal of backlash from fans, media and fighters alike. Both Sonnen and the UFC went on what amounted to a smear campaign, blasting Jones at every turn.

However, the champ returned fire by saying that, yes, he had no interest in fighting "The American Gangster" on just three days notice (which is what it would amount to with fight week media responsibilities), but he would certainly fight Sonnen at UFC 152 with roughly three weeks to prepare.

So why isn't that exactly what's happening?

Well, Lyoto Machida earned his number one contender status at 205-pounds by knocking out Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4 earlier this month, so he was the first guy to step in to take the fight. After all, the shot was promised to him.

Surprisingly enough, he turned it down.

Enter Sonnen, right?

Wrong.

Enter Vitor Belfort.

But why?

As reported by Ariel Helwani:

BTW, if you're wondering why it's not Chael vs. Bones at 152, (Dana White) said that ship sailed for now after Bones turned it down for 151. ... The rationale was it just wouldn't be right to put that fight on three weeks after canceling an event at Mandalay, a long-time partner.

And there you have it.

Sonnen goes back to preparing for his return to the light heavyweight division against Forrest Griffin at UFC 155 on Dec. 29 while Jones meets Belfort, who is coming off two straight knockout victories over Yoshihiro Akiyama and Anthony Johnson, respectively.

Thoughts on all this, Maniacs? Do you think the UFC should have booked Jones vs. Sonnen instead of Jones vs. Belfort?

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