Jon Jones opens up about the fall-through of the original UFC 151 event following the pull-out of Dan Henderson and his refusal to accept Chael Sonnen as a short-notice replacement. Jones says that his refusal to accept Sonnen was motivated by several factors. Not only is he different to Henderson stylistically, Sonnen also doesn’t have contender status at present.
“He has a 5-6 record in the UFC and lost his last two fights. Why would I put a world championship on the line against a very dangerous opponent but one who hasn’t even remotely earned the right to consider himself to be in the position to fight for the world title,” Jones tells MMA Fighting's 'MMA (After) Hour'
“That’s like winning the jackpot and I refuse to be anybody’s jackpot… I clearly said that I would not allow Chael Sonnen to jump the line by using his mouth. And what was he doing? Jumping the line by using his mouth. Its like, why would I contradict myself when I clearly just said that I think Chael Sonnen is a racist? The way he treats Brazilians is totally uncalled for; I have zero respect for him.
“I am honoured to fight Vitor Belfort - he is a Christian like I am, a respectable man, a good classy clean-cut guy. Chael Sonnen is a punk, he’s a thug. He calls himself the American Gangster but he ratted out all his friends in that money laundering situation? that’s not gangster! He’s a straight punk. He won’t be remembered… Chael’s words hold no substance.”
That said, Jones says that it wasn’t just Sonnen who was getting refused - any other fighter would have been turned down with the exception of one.
“The only person I would have fought would have been Rashad Evans because he is very similar to Dan Henderson… Rashad Evans, stylistically, would be the only match similar enough to what we had trained for,” he says.
Jones also talks about the need to think about his multi-million dollar career and his legacy when making these decisions, pointing out that he is closing in on Tito Ortiz’s record of title defences.