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To Fight or Not to Fight?

The internet was abuzz this morning with speculation that next Saturday’s UFC 151 card was in jeopardy. Former fighter turned commentator, Kenny Florian, took to Twitter and announced a cryptically juicy tidbit about the upcoming event: “Hearing that we may have some disappointed @UFC fans soon due to some unfortunate circumstances for an upcoming card.”

Initial speculation seemed to surround the main event of UFC 151 between Jon Jones and Dan Henderson.

In what was seen by some as an attempt to lay any rumours to rest, Dan Henderson sent a Tweet out following an allegedly normal training session: “Just got done with a great training session with the boys. @CyrilleDiabate @tarecfighter @heathlsims @RFBJJ @rockholdMMA.”

However, Tarec Saffiedine, one of the fighters mentioned took to Twitter himself and explained that he hadn’t seen Henderson since last Saturday: “haven’t seen him since my fight.”

The worry grew, the rumours flew —was Hendo injured? Was it a problem with his testosterone levels–, and at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, UFC President Dana White called a media conference call to lay the social media-induced speculative hurricane to rest. What was revealed was even more devastating than had originally been thought.

For the first time while under White’s 11-year charge, a major UFC event was being cancelled. Dan Henderson had suffered a knee injury in training.

According to White, Jones had been offered a fight with Chael Sonnen as a replacement (after Lyoto Machida, the original intended replacement turned down an offer), but the champ refused: “Jon Jones said I’m not fighting Chael Sonnen on eight days’ notice’ …a world champion turned down a fight, that’s never happened.”

As a result, the head-honcho had some harsh words for Jon Jones: “Me and Lorenzo are both disgusted (with Jones).” He went so far as to call the decision “selfish” and “disgusting.”

White’s disappointment was apparent as he ranted about the effect Jones’ decision would have on the other fighters on the card, the UFC, and even his personal relationship with the fighter.

The question on MMA fans’ minds (or answer, as there has been no shortage of opinion online) is whether Jones acted appropriately by denying a replacement fight. White may have said it best when he explained that he can’t “make” these guys fight, but the truth is that this decision may have potentially wide-spread ramifications.

Perhaps we may see the introduction of a new “Champion’s Clause” attached to UFC contracts, as it’s obvious that Dana White will do whatever he can to avoid a similar situation in the future.

For now, all we can do is wait for Jon Jones’ side of the story and argue amongst ourselves whether Jon Jones owes it to anybody to take the fight.

Jon Jones will now fight former Light Heavyweight champion, Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 in Toronto. Lyoto Machida was originally slated to take on Bones at the event, but he turned down the fight due to a lack of preparation time.

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