Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Mixed Martial Arts [Print without images]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Jon Jones explains decision

By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones does not regret his decision to decline a short-notice fight against Chael Sonnen, stating it wasn't right to provide Sonnen "the opportunity of a lifetime."

Jones had been scheduled to fight Dan Henderson in the UFC 151 main event in Las Vegas on Sept. 1. But that fell through eight days before the fight when Henderson withdrew from the card due to a knee injury.

Jones I don't regret the decision. I pretty much had everything to lose in that situation. Chael Sonnen is a guy whose record is, I think, 6-5, which isn't a very good record to even fight for a world title. I just thought it would be a bad decision to give a guy the opportunity of a lifetime like that.

-- Jon Jones on his decision to decline a UFC 151 fight against Chael Sonnen

The UFC tried to book Sonnen, a former middleweight contender, as a replacement. But Jones ultimately turned the fight down, and the entire event was canceled. Jones faces Vitor Belfort this weekend in Toronto.

Despite drawing harsh criticism from UFC president Dana White, Jones stood by his decision to not fight Sonnen.

"I don't regret the decision," Jones said Tuesday on "SportsCenter." "I pretty much had everything to lose in that situation. Chael Sonnen is a guy whose record is, I think, 6-5, which isn't a very good record to even fight for a world title.

"I just thought it would be a bad decision to give a guy the opportunity of a lifetime like that."

Sonnen holds a 6-5 mark in the UFC, with an overall professional record of 27-12-1. He fought for the UFC middleweight title twice, losing both times to Anderson Silva.

Jones, currently ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by ESPN.com, also maintains Sonnen knew of Henderson's injury before it was announced on Aug. 23 and had secretly been preparing for the bout.

"It all seemed too suspicious that he was calling me out way before I had a clue my opponent was hurt," Jones said. "People don't realize Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson are actually best friends.

"Chael Sonnen knew his teammate was hurt, he obviously knew his teammate his was hurt. He had prepared up to three weeks for me. That would give me eight days, when he had three weeks."

Henderson and Sonnen have denied that knowledge of the injury was shared between them.

Sonnen is expected to fight Forrest Griffin in December. Regarding a future fight with Sonnen, Jones said he'll defend his title against him when he earns the shot.

"I wouldn't consider Chael Sonnen one of the best in the world," Jones added.

The light heavyweight champ has not spoken to White since the fallout of UFC 151. A meeting between the two will inevitably take place this week during the buildup for Saturday's card in Toronto.

Jones said he's anxious to see the UFC president and looks forward to putting the ordeal behind him.

"I'm excited to talk to Dana," Jones said. "Me and Dana are both what I consider great ambassadors for the sport of mixed martial arts, and us not being on the same page -- it makes no sense. It gets us nowhere. We'll squash it."