UFC 151 is likely to always be one of the defining events of Jon Jones’ career, even if it never actually happened. When Dan Henderson pulled out of his shot at Jones’ title at the event and Jon turned down a late notice challenger from Chael Sonnen, it turned off many fans and other fighters.
While the subject doesn’t get brought up too frequently anymore, it did come up at the UFC 155 fan Q&A prior to the weigh-ins and Donald Cerrone, a teammate of Jones at Jackson/Winkeljohn, did not hold back on his true feelings on the matter:
“Yes, I’d have fought…They could call me tomorrow and ask me to fight. I think you need to fight. That’s our job. I don’t think you should curl up and find a way out. So yes, that’s my answer.”
“He’s my teammate, and we have this discussion all the time…I said, ‘You should’ve done it.’ And he goes, ‘Well, you don’t make a million (dollars) to fight.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re right, but I f—ing fight every time with all my heart.'”
I’ve spoken a lot on the matter myself and personally feel that fighters absolutely have the right to take or turn down any fight they want for the good of their career. I do think Jones should have fought Sonnen because I think that’s an extremely low risk fight for him, but his decision not to was one that he did have the right to make.
I still think it’s a risky idea in a dangerous sport that fighters should take every fight offered no matter the opponent or notice. This is a sport that involves a lot of physical danger and a very short window to make big money, if you’re not ready for a fight or uneasy about the circumstances surrounding it, I can’t see any reason not to turn it down.
But Cerrone’s attitude is the kind that Dana White clearly wants right now as he has expressed his disappointment with fighters multiple times recently for making these kind of career decisions.
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