The UFC is canceling its first major show in 11 years, scrapping UFC 151 after light heavyweight contender Dan Henderson was forced to withdraw due to a knee injury and 205-pound champion Jon Jones refused a replacement fight with Chael Sonnen.
UFC President Dana White didn’t hide his “disgust” with Jones’ refusal to fight when he made the announcement Thursday morning on a media conference call.
“We’ve never, ever had a fighter refuse to fight someone,” White said. “As much as he’s won and with all the things he’s accomplished in a short amount of time, he’s been a champion that hasn’t been very popular. I don’t think this is going to do wonders for his popularity.”
After the 41-year-old Henderson suffered a partial tear of his medial collateral ligament in his right knee, his former training partner Sonnen, who had engaged Jones the last two weeks in a war of words, accepted the fight, White said.
“Chael Sonnen accepted the fight with Jon Jones last night,” White said. “At 8 or 9 last night the one thing I never thought would happen in a million years happen. Jon Jones said, I won’t fight Chael Sonnen on eight days notice. That has never happened either.”
White said fans who purchased tickets for the card, which was set for Sept. 1 at Mandalay Bay Events Center, would get full refunds at the point of purchase.
White said Jones would now meet Lyoto Machida in the main event of the Sept. 22 card at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, originally slated as UFC 152, but
didn’t immediately know when he would reschedule the reminder of the fights that were planned for the card, or how big a hit the cancelation would have on the world’s premiere MMA promotion.
“It’s a major, major deal,” said White. “We lose (expletive) of money, money that’s already been spent. We’re eight days out. We’ve spent (expletive) of money on this fight. How long, how far it goes and how bad it hurts. I don’t know because it’s the first time we’ve done it.”