UFC 151 cancellation is PR nightmare for all
UFC president Dana White has just announced that the upcoming UFC 151 pay-per-view, scheduled to air in Australian on September 2, has been cancelled.
The problems for the Zuffa started with light-heavyweight contender Dan Henderson’s withdrawal from the main event against champ Jon Jones due to knee injury – a partial MCL tear.
Former middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen then stepped in and offered to replace Henderson on less than two weeks’ notice.
Heeding the advice of his trainer, Greg Jackson, Jones turned down the fight. This in turn, forced White to cancel the event. The plug was pulled on UFC 151 completely. This marks the first time that the UFC has had to cancel an event in 11 years.
Jones is now scheduled to rematch Lyoto Machida at UFC 152 later in September.
Though their situations are vastly different, this cancellation reminds me of the short-lived Affliction promotion calling off its final card after Josh Barnett tested positive, which eventually led to the promotion’s demise.
I don’t know the inner workings of the UFC but it just seems like bad business practice on the part of Dana White.
As a champion who has already earned the dislike of many fans, this latest move by Jones could possibly eliminate what few supporters he has left.
From a PR point of view, a dominant champion declining to fight a former middleweight who hasn’t been in training simply reeks of a lack of heart. Say what he will about not having time to prepare for a specific opponent – having been in fight training for weeks is a decided advantage against a latecomer. In addition, Chael Sonnen was moving up to 205 from 185 lbs and would have looked remarkably smaller than the towering Jones.
The other side of this issue is how the PPV cancelation affects revenue and salaries. Fans that purchased tickets months in advance will certainly not be pleased.
Moreover, fighters on the undercard have had their earnings taken away after months of preparation, though some compensation scheme is probably in place. Simply put, it’s a lose-lose situation for all involved.
I question Greg Jackson’s reasoning behind advising Jones not to take the Sonnen fight.
Yes, he’s the master of fight strategies and takes a very philosophical approach to the game, yet I can’t help but wonder why he would opt for such a drastic course of action.
In all, both the UFC and Jones will have to do a lot of salvaging before the hype train for UFC 152 takes off.