UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones should not be blamed for the cancellation of UFC 151. The blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of UFC President Dana White and Zuffa, LLC.
Over the last several years, we've seen fighters sustaining injuries while preparing for upcoming fights. On most occasions, a replacement fighter was named and the fight went on as scheduled.
But in the case of Jones, he is no ordinary fighter. He is a brand.
That’s right, a brand. The day he signed with Nike, he became a brand. If he loses a fight, it could cost him a lot more than just the fight. So just taking on any opponent without preparation cannot happen.
He no longer totally relies on Zuffa, LLC entirely for his finances.
Some MMA writers have written that fighters like B.J. Penn, Randy Couture and many other top fighters in the past would not have turned down a fight. Of course not, the UFC was their main means of finances and in some cases their only means of finances. Zuffa paid their bills, so they didn’t have any other choice but to take the fight.
Instead of other fighters criticizing Jones for taking a stance, they should be applauding him. For being a trailblazer and showing them that they can control their future.
It wasn’t Jones who got injured -- it was Dan Henderson. And it wasn’t Jones who didn’t have a Plan B in place -- it was Zuffa, LLC.
That brings me to Zuffa and Dana White and the lack of a good strategy in case something like this would happen.
In the newspaper business we have a contingency plan in place in case there's a press breakdown or union workers call for a strike. We have replacement workers that would step in and do the work. We pay them a small fee to be there in case we need them during union negotiations.
A simple plan going forward would be for a third fighter to be a part of the contract that the main event fighters sign, in case one of the fighters in the main event is injured during his preparation for the fight. Both parties would agree to fight this third guy. The third guy would be paid a small amount (around $20,000) to make weight and prepared himself to fight in case of an injury. He would be on a retainer, like a lawyer or ad agency. You pay them a fee even if you don’t use them, but if you do need them they are there.
Fighters like Jones wouldn’t be blindsided about the possibility of fighting someone new. He would know who that opponent would be before hand and would've set a side time during his training to fight this third guy in case of an injury.
Guys are going to get injured, so let's have real plans in place to replace the fighters.
Let’s not call on one TRT guy (Chael Sonnen) to replace another TRT guy (Dan Henderson).
That’s not a real plan -- that's an artificial replacement.