DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) – UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has had a rough month.
Jones was originally scheduled to defend his title against future hall of gamer Dan Henderson on Labor Day weekend, but Henderson was injured eight days before the fight, leaving UFC president Dana White scrambling to find a last minute replacement opponent. He found a willing substitute in former middleweight Chael Sonnen, who was already to scheduled to move up to light heavyweight to take on Forrest Griffin later in the year.
White contacted Jones about the switch, and after conferring with his trainer Greg Jackson, Jones elected to turn down the fight.
What followed was a hastily arranged media conference call with White who announced the unprecedented cancellation of the entire card and then went on an uncensored tirade aimed at Jones and, more particularly, Jackson.
Jones immediately became the target of charges of selfishness from fellow fighters and media alike.
The next few days didn’t get any easier for either Jones or White, as criticism of Jones intensified while a succession of potential opponents for him at this weekend’s UFC 152 card in Toronto turned down White’s overtures.
White finally found a willing participant in middleweight contender Vitor Belfort.
Belfort, himself a former UFC light heavyweight champion, last competed at the 205 pound limit before Jones was even training in mixed martial arts. He was KO’ed by middleweight champ Anderson Silva last year at UFC 126, and since then he’s been on a two fight win streak within the 185 pound division.
Still, having Belfort jump to light heavyweight so unexpectedly to take an immediate title shot has odds makers casting serious doubt on his chances, and the current 6-1 action reflects that.
At 35 years of age, Belfort made his pro debut way back in 1996. Nearly 75% of his wins have come via knock out, and he’s also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. That being said, he’s taking on arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world, and he’s doing it on three weeks notice.
Listen to my interview with Jon Jones, as I ask him some very pointed questions about the month long nightmare that has made him the subject of one of the biggest controversies in UFC history, his strategy for defeating Belfort, and how he ended up training with a member of Def Leppard in the process.
PLAY: Richard Hunter talks with UFC fighter Jon Jones
Don’t miss 105.3 The Fan’s UFC 152 post fight show on Saturday night with Richard Hunter & Mike Dingess, immediately following the pay per view.
Follow Richard on Twitter @RichardHunter
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