By FightBeat MMA correspondent Rikky Ricardo
With UFC 152: Jones vs Belfort on the horizon, the cancellation of their previous event, UFC 151: Jones vs Henderson, may result in some rather intriguing benefits for fighters and fans in the future.
Over the past year the UFC has had to drastically increase their workload as a result of their deal with FOX. A consequence of meeting their contractual demands for so many events has resulted in what could best be described as “boxing-style” PPVs.
This basically comes down to Zuffa recognising that their star fighters like GSP, Silva, Jones, don’t need a strong supporting cast for the fight to sell well. People will always pay to see the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world, especially when you can look back at Silva and Jones’ previous work and see their sheer brilliance when destroying opponents. However, this new policy back-fired on them when Jones refused to fight Chael Sonnen and it showed the importance of having a strong co-main event to deal with problems like this.
As much as we may all like Jake Ellenberger’s style, it doesn’t hide the fact that he is coming off a TKO loss and fighting an opponent in Jay Hieron that hasn’t been in the UFC since 2005 (a fight he lost). A look at the rest of the main card is not inspiring at all, Dennis Siver vs Eddie Yagin, Dennis “Banana Hammock” Hallman vs Thiago Tavares, John Lineker vs Yasuhiro Urushitani. These are the sort of fights you expect on the preliminary card, and with no disrespect to Lineker vs Urushitani, on the Facebook prelims. Injuries are rampant in this sport, and its not feasible to expect fighters to accept all challenges, especially when they are champions. Hopefully Zuffa will learn from this and either have better co-main fights, or make the main cards stronger in the future.
Although Jones got lambasted by pretty much every other UFC fighter for his decision, he is playing an important, unprecedented role that is going to benefit every fighter in the future. Turning down fights, especially when Zuffa needs you to help them out, is career suicide for smaller less influential fighters. The fact that one of their biggest, fastest rising superstars put his foot down and decided not to help out his bosses for the sake of his career, will result in a domino effect as some of the UFC’s more known fighters will seriously think twice before doing them any favours. Zuffa can not expect every fighter to take fights on a week’s notice in the future, and any that do will likely need better financial rewards than what they currently get for helping them out.
The final consequence of 151 will be how Jones handles all the backlash he has received for his decision. Will he come into UFC 152 with a clear mind and get the victory we all expect, or is he going to be too distracted and give Belfort, a serious power puncher, a chance to win that he never would usually have? The one thing we can say is that the fight week for UFC 152 is going to be very, very fun !
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