You were Dana White a few days ago…
We know the deal – Dana White tried to hold UFC 151 together by throwing in Chael against Jones. It didn’t work out, let’s move on from there. But when Jones refused to fight Chael, Dana acted like a spoilt child and tipped over his toy-box.
Dana cancelled the whole 151 card, went on a media rant blaming Jones and Jackson for everything and has since, that I’m aware of, said very little. But it showed everybody his hand. He needs his champions to fight, desperately.
In a year when the UFC has seen fight-cards decimated by injuries, championship fights few and far between (how many times has Silva, GSP and JDS fought this year?) and some very hyped fights turn out bad (Hector’s first fight in the UFC was just ugly), I think we saw Dana venting about a grudge he has with Jackson and his coaching style (fight to win, not to entertain).
I think Dana used Henderson’s injury (and why did it take Henderson three weeks to admit to an injury? Did I miss something there?) as an excuse to throw mud at Jackson. He shifted the focus on purpose because he hates Jackson.
What should have Dana done? Smiled politely at Jones and Jackson and said, fine, you don’t want to fight Chael, no worries and hung up the phone. Then he should have called up Machida and Shogun and explained an interim title fight was happening next weekend in Vegas and did they want in?
Once he had two good fighters (anybody that has won their last fight would do) to agree to terms, Dana could have thrown the UFC PR machine behind those two guys. New champion reins the LHW division within seven days.
Then when he got the call from Jones and Jackson a couple weeks later looking for Machida, he could have ignored them. No interviews about Jones and definitely do not book him for a fight. Yep, park Jones on the bench for nine to 12 months. Take the heat out of Jones completely and make him hungry to fight anybody. Again.
It’s a short term pain for long term gain. Jones just signed a major sponsor (Nike), so he doesn’t really need the fight purse that much anymore. But what Jones does need is to get his face on TV wearing Nike’s shirts and shoes. If he doesn’t get on TV for a year, Nike would eventually have to pull his contract and people would get sick of the inevitable, ‘Dana won’t let me fight’ interviews that would follow.
This would have put the power back into the hands of Dana and the UFC and would send a timely message to all UFC fighters and their coaches alike – you fight for the UFC. You fight when, against whom and for how much we say.
I know this isn’t seeing the whole chess-board, so I could have missed something and maybe they did try this on for size, but I doubt it. At worst, it would have put some life back into the LHW division which is slowly dying under Jones.