After a knee injury suffered by number one light heavyweight contender Dan Henderson has forced him from September 1st’s UFC 151 main event against champion Jon Jones, the event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas has been canceled.
UFC president Dana White made the announcement on Thursday during a media teleconference.
With Henderson out, White tried to salvage the event before making the
decision to pull the plug on the 11 fight card, with one particular
loquacious contender willing to step up and take the bout with the
youngest champion in UFC history.
“One of the things you’ve
heard me brag about a million times is how UFC doesn’t have to cancel
events and that we can always find a replacement,” he said. “For
somebody to fight Jon Jones on eight days’ notice is tough to do. But to
be totally honest, one guy did. Not only when I called him did he say
I’ll take the fight, he said I’ll fly to Las Vegas tonight and fight
him. And that was Chael Sonnen.
Chael Sonnen accepted the fight with Jon Jones, wanted the fight bad,
so as of eight, nine o’clock last night, we had a fight. We started
working, started creating commercials, PR started getting ready to crank
up, but the one thing that I never thought in a million years would
happen happened. Jon Jones said I’m not fighting Chael Sonnen with eight
“This is probably one of my all-time lows as president of the UFC over the last 11 years,” said White. “For the first time in 11 years, we’re going to cancel an event. Dan Henderson has a partial tear in his MCL and couldn’t continue. He tried to train and tried to continue to work out, he saw doctors and there was nothing we could do to save that fight.”
Said Henderson in a statement, “Sadly and unfortunately, I partially tore a ligament in my knee in training. As a result I've had to make one of the toughest decisions that I have ever had to make...for the first time in my career I am forced to pull out of a fight, my fight with Jon Jones at UFC 151. Luckily, surgery is not needed at this time and I will be completely devoted to rehabbing my knee as quickly as possible. I feel that I owe it to my fans and all the people supporting me to fight at my full potential in order to give myself a chance to win the UFC title. I appreciate the loyal support that I have felt from my fans. I want to thank all of my coaches and team of guys for the great support with my training camp. Most importantly, I appreciate their honesty when I needed them the most to make this very difficult decision. I also want to thank Dana and Lorenzo for being so understanding and supportive. I will continue to pursue the UFC belt with all of my heart!”
If the fight was going to happen, it would have been Sonnen’s first at 205 pounds in the UFC since 2005, but that didn’t deter the self-proclaimed “Gangster from West Linn,” who has poking at Jones on Twitter since moving back to light heavyweight.
“These guys have been talking smack back and forth to each other and I thought it was a fight that people would be interested in, and Chael was the guy who accepted it,” said White. “And Chael was pumped and excited for this fight. In the heat of the moment, when things are going down, this is the guy that you pick up the phone and call, and he will fight anybody.”
White, obviously disappointed at Jones’ decision to not accept the bout, scrapped the UFC 151 card and has moved “Bones” to September 22nd’s UFC 152 show in Toronto, where he will face Lyoto Machida, who is fresh off a spectacular knockout win over Ryan Bader earlier this month. This bout will now be the Toronto main event, joining the UFC’s first ever flyweight championship fight between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson. UPDATE: Later in the day, the UFC announced that Machida had
opted not to take the fight. Instead, the UFC 152 headlining title fight
will be between Jon Jones and former champion Vitor Belfort.
Ticket holders for UFC 151 can obtain refunds at their place of purchase. As for the rest of the fighters on the September 1st card, White said “I don’t know what the fallout’s gonna be from this thing for the undercard, but we’ll figure it out.”
Hendo Injured, UFC 151 Card Scrapped (Updated)
By Thomas Gerbasi August 23, 2012