It’s been over 13 years ... LET IT GO!
UFC CEO Dana White is still salty over the fact that Jon Jones, unquestionably the greatest light heavyweight champion in the history of MMA, refused to fight late replacement Chael Sonnen on super short notice after original opponent, Dan Henderson, blew out his knee and withdrew from the planned UFC 151 card in Las Vegas.
Current lightweight champion Islam Makhachev referenced the 2012 incident when making a case for being higher up on the promotion’s pound-for-pound list (read those comments here). Jones was quick to respond, but had “bigger fish to fry” (literally) and opted to voluntarily remove himself from the online spat.
White, however, is still holding a grudge.
“When you talk about Jon Jones at that time, when that happened ... that’s the other thing about this sport right now,” White said at the UFC 294 pre-fight press conference. “Not only the fighters, are they willing to step up, but the coaches ... these guys go to their coaches and their coaching staff and say, ‘We’re being offered this fight on short notice.’ Jon Jones’ coaches told him not to do it. The coaches that are involved in the game now, here today, are behind them 100 percent in saying, ‘Yeah, we believe you’re the best in the world, let’s absolutely take this fight.’ The mentality between the camps, the fighters, everybody right now is completely different than it’s been in the past.”
Jones has long since parted ways with his original coaching staff.
Makhachev is being praised for accepting a short-notice fight (and championship rematch) against reigning featherweight titleholder Alex Volkanovski, who replaced original opponent, Charles Oliveira, when “Do Bronx” was busted open and forced to withdraw from the UFC 294 main event on Oct. 21 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
But not everyone is aligned on White’s assessment of the current coaching landscape.
“If I’m being completely honest, I would’ve [told Volkanovski] ‘Hold off, let’s get a fair opportunity’,” former UFC heavyweight champion and longtime Jones’ rival, Daniel Cormier, said during his UFC 294 preview. “Let’s get a full camp, a chance to go out there and do what we did last time with all the information we gathered in the first fight. You can’t put all of that into play ... even when he’s completely prepared for everybody else, he’s still kinda have his mind set on Islam. I believe that he knew that it was going to be Charles, he thinks Justin Gaethje is going to be next, so the opportunity may pass him by. But, I would’ve probably waited.”
I guess the “mentality” ain’t so different after all.
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