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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Jon Jones wants to move on from the UFC 151 situation, but before he'll be able to do so, he has to hash things out with UFC President Dana White next week in Toronto ahead of UFC 152. They already had a few contentious things sitting in between them after White's press conference rant while announcing the UFC 151 cancellation, and Jones added to things in some of the interviews he's done since then.
Now there's more.
White spoke with a group of reporters on Thursday at the UFC offices in Las Vegas, and he once again blasted Jones and his trainer Greg Jackson in reaction to a few comments Jones made in recent weeks.
The first thing to draw White's ire was Jones saying he felt like a "piece of meat" during the UFC 151 situation. Jones made that comment in an interview with MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani, and White absolutely went off on that notion.
"The Jon Jones piece of meat f***ing thing. When I see him in f***ing Toronto, that's the first f***ing thing we're going to talk about," White said on Thursday (transcribed by MMAFighting.com. "Piece of meat? Give me a f***ing break."
"That sounds like something a male supermodel would say: I feel like a piece of meat out here," White mocked. "That pisses me off worse than f***ing canceling the event. I just heard that one today, Jim Rome told me that."
With a new comment to boil his blood, White addressed another issue Jones brought up: that White hasn't taken any responsibility for UFC 151's cancellation for him or the UFC. Instead, as Jones contended, he's successfully blamed everyone but him.
"Every time somebody asks me if I take responsibility for canceling UFC 151 on f***ing Twitter, it's like ' Yeah, how's it my fault?'" White said. "If somebody can even try to give me an idea of how that's my fault that 151 got canceled, I would love to hear it."
"Dan Henderson should have told me three weeks before that his f***ing knee was hurt, and maybe I could have saved it. And Jon Jones should have fought f***ing Chael Sonnen. And his f***ing goofy trainer should have kept his face shut."
Of course, White refers to Greg Jackson once again, whom he referred to as a "f***ing sport killer" during the UFC 151 cancellation press conference. He went even further on Thursday, ripping into Jackson once again and calling out what he feels is a bogus "family" mentality in that camp.
"The thing that drives me crazy about Greg Jackson is Greg Jackson has this whole little thing where he's the nicest guy in the world, the nicest guy you've ever met. Real quiet and humble. He's a f***ing hardcore businessman," White said. "That's what that guy is. He plays the whole thing with Jon and Rashad [Evans] and f***ing Jardine and all these guys 'We're all family, we're all brothers. We're a big family here and that's what we are. We won't fight each other because we're family.'
"You're not family. You train together. Yes they like each other. There's a lot of nice guys in MMA. Keith Jardine is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Rashad is cool too. This sport is full of nice guys. [But Greg] plays this card with these guys... The only reason we even know who Greg Jackson is cause of f***ing Diego Sanchez. Diego Sanchez came out of his camp because of GSP. GSP wanted to come train at Jackson's camp and Diego was like f*** that s***. 'This is my house, man. I'm going to have to fight this guy one day.' What did Greg Jackson do? GSP is down there isn't he. You know why because he believed GSP would f***ing beat Diego Sanchez. He made a business decision. I will take him over him. What happened to f***ing family?"
He had one semi-decent thing to say about the fighters and their relationship with Jackson, but went back to brutally bashing Jackson and what he feels is a completely fabricated concept in the camp.
"Let me be fair. It's good to have a trainer whom you respect. To keep you in f***ing line, that you don't run the f***ing show," White said. "To keep you in order, and you respect him enough to run a camp. And have his f***ing together to keep your life organized and focused and ready for a f***ing fight and can breakdown [the fight] and do all this other stuff.
"But Greg Jackson is a f***ing businessman who cons all these guys into this family s***. Because it would be the perfect f***ing world if I can have Diego, GSP, Rashad, Jon Jones and a list of other f***ing characters who don't have to fight each other because they're all the best in the world. And if they don't ever have to f***ing fight each other, he makes money from all of these guys. Big money, because these are all big-money fighters. He's full of s*** is what he is."
Even though he holds a level of disdain for Jones going through with the denial of the Chael Sonnen fight, he still blames Jackson and his camp for getting in Jones' ear about it, and then doesn't understand the logic they've put forth.
"I was driving off the freeway, I had just landed and called him and told him what Sonnen said and he f***ing laughed," White said in describing Jones' initial reaction to the Sonnen offer. "It wasn't like, 'Whoa f***ing this might be the biggest mistake of my f***ing career.' I thought we had a f***ing fight. He was laughing and was like 'Alright I'm going to call my team and call you back in a little while.' And then they call back and it was a completely different f***ing story. It was the genius Greg Jackson that talked him out of the fight. Talked him out of fighting Chael Sonnen on eight days f***ing notice, yet fighting Vitor Belfort off a full f***ing camp."
"Ok, we were gonna fight Dan Henderson, guy's got f***ing knockout power, great wrestling, a good chin, tough f***ing guy. Now here's Chael Sonnen on eight days notice and he's a f***ing 185 pounder, coming in with no camp whatsoever. And you heard what they said: he's a southpaw. Vitor Belfort's a f***ing southpaw. And hits f***ing harder, and is faster and more explosive. So you're gonna f***ing say no to him on eight days notice but fight [Vitor]. It's so stupid that it gets me angry."
While he ultimately thinks he and Jones can hash things out and work together, he's not entirely sure how things are going to go next week in Toronto when they meet. Of course, he's able to keep fighters around with whom he doesn't get along, but then those fighters typically will deal with UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta instead. In this case, however, White said Jones and Jackson succeeded in not just upsetting him, but Fertitta as well, and that's a bridge that will also need to be repaired in order to move forward.
"I don't know, we'll see how our talk goes. We've proven you don't have to be best friends to work here," White said. "But it's not a good idea to have a horrible relationship with us either. I get mad all the time and s*** happens, but the voice of reason in the next office over here (UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta). If you can get along with him than I'm cool with that. We run a business."
"Lorenzo was really pissed. Like I said pissing me off is one thing, I'm always pissed off. But he's never pissed off. You start getting to the point where you're pissing him off, then..."
Penick's Analysis: There's a lot to address here from White, some of it way off, some of it not wrong at all, but let's begin with the UFC 151 situation. No one will suggest that it's entirely the UFC's fault that the event got canceled. They did attempt to make a replacement main event, and they weren't given time to do that effectively because Dan Henderson didn't let them know he was injured until nine days before the event. That's understandable, they didn't have many options.
However, they were also the ones who set that fight card up without a co-main event that could have been kept on as a pay-per-view headliner, and they were the ones who ultimately made the decision to pull the plug. As Jones tells it, he wasn't informed that the event would be canceled if he turned down Sonnen. Would that have affected his decision at all? Maybe, maybe not, but if his side of things are accurate, you can't place that part of it on him, and White refuses to take any responsibility for the UFC's part in what happened.
Moving on to the Greg Jackson piece of this. There is certainly plenty of historical evidence to suggest that White's not far off on his businessman assessment of Jackson. The examples he cites of the fighters who were there before and the fighters who were brought in isn't outrageous, and there's something there in saying it's not the nice, friendly, "family" environment Jackson has tried to put out there. I'm not saying it's impossible for Jackson to feel he's being 100% honest and true in his beliefs on that front, but there is evidence there of it happening time and again with some of his guys.
As far as Jon Jones goes, White being more "pissed off" at the "piece of meat" comment than the cancellation of UFC 151 is ridiculous. Jones was being treated as a commodity that should have jumped at whatever option the UFC suggested for UFC 151. The fact that he didn't - whether it was the right decision for him or not - was Jones showing that he isn't beholden to the UFC's every whim. Could he have been fine had he gone along with the fight? Of course. He could have blasted through Chael Sonnen in a round like it was nothing and this wouldn't be a discussion. However, there was also the possibility, however remote, that things wouldn't have gone his way, and on eight day's notice without having trained for that opponent, it wasn't a risk he wanted to take.
When it comes to White's comments about the logic behind taking the Belfort fight and not Sonnen, he's missing two key points. 1) The UFC didn't offer Jones a bout with Sonnen at UFC 152, and 2) it wasn't just the style that had them turning down Sonnen, it was the time for preparation. Jones and his camp said they'd take any fight the UFC put in front of them for UFC 152 in Toronto, because regardless of who it was, they had more than what amounted to three days of preparation to be ready for the fight. So there's no logic gap in taking the Belfort fight when they didn't take on Sonnen at UFC 151 because they would have taken on Sonnen at UFC 152.
These comments may ultimately do more harm than good, and they weren't a necessity. This is all stuff that could have been hashed out behind closed doors next week in Toronto between Jones and White, and instead White has opted to once again attempt to bury a man who could become his top draw for years to come. We'll see if Jones' camp reacts or if they simply wait to have that closed door meeting next week, but White's re-lit the fires on the UFC 151 issue once more.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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