Posted 09/19/2013 by Marlene Taborda in Untethered MMA

The UFC Card That Never Was, A Retrospective

By Mike Fagan, September 19th, 2013 

Just over a year ago, Jon Jones was scheduled to fight Dan Henderson at UFC 151. That fight never happened. The card never happened. As we gear up for Jones’ potentially record-setting defense against Alexander Gustafsson on Saturday, let’s take a stroll down memory lane.


May 10, 2012: The UFC announces light heavyweight champ Jon Jones will defend his title on September 1st against Dan Henderson at UFC 151. Jones is a month out from snuffing out former teammate Rashad Evans, and is on one of the most impressive runs in the history of the sport, having beaten Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, and Evans in succession.

Henderson earns his title shot on the back of finishing Fedor in July of 2011, then following that up with a win in the fight of the year/decade against Shogun.


May 19, 2012: Jon Jones is arrested in upstate New York on a DUI after wrapping his Bentley around a pole. He pleads guilty later in the month. The court sentences him to a $1,000 fine, installation ignition interlocks on all his vehicles, and take a victim impact panel within 90 days.

Jones is uninjured in the crash, though two female passengers receive minor injuries.


August 8, 2012: The card takes a huge hit when Josh Koscheck pulls out of his co-main fight against Jake Ellenberger. Jay Hieron steps in.


August 17, 2012: Cage Potato notes that the UFC 151 undercard is, well, kind of awful:

UFC 151′s pay-per-view broadcast is led off by John Lineker vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani — the guys shown at the top of this post, FYI — two flyweights who are both 0-1 in the UFC. Maybe it’s an exaggeration to say that “no one cares about little flyweights,” but certainly, nobody cares about these particular little flyweights.

Outside of Jones and Henderson, there’s nobody on this card who you could legitimately call a “star.” If Josh Koscheck didn’t get injured, there would be three big names on the main card instead of two, but that’s still a weak offering for a PPV lineup. As it stands, UFC 151 is the epitome of the “one-fight card” common to boxing events, where only the headlining match is worth getting excited for.

The default co-main event of Jake Ellenberger vs. Jay Hieron pits a guy who lost his last UFC fight against a guy who has never won a UFC fight.


August 21, 2012: During the pre-fight conference call, Jones weighs in on Testosterone Replacement Therapy (via MMA Fighting):

“Basically, I believe that if you’re healthy enough to play a sport, you shouldn’t take any performance enhancing drugs or anything or testosterone. Fighters make a lot of money in their 20s, they make a lot of money in their 30s, and then when you get in your 40s, unfortunately, you’re in your 40s. When you’re looking to stay in the game, I don’t I think you should take a drug that gives you the strength of a 30-year-old again.”

Henderson, who has used the procedure since 2007, will be using TRT for this fight.


August 22, 2012: Late in the evening, rumors of a Dan Henderson injury start swirling. Kenny Florian tweets, “Hearing that we may have some disappointed @UFC fans soon due to some unfortunate circumstances for an upcoming card.” Journalist Jeremy Botter follows, “If what I’m hearing is correct, UFC 151 may be in desperate need of a main event. And that sucks.”

Henderson claims he’s still training for the fight, tweeting, “Just got done with a great training session with the boys. @CyrilleDiabate @tarecfighter @heathlsims @RFBJJ @rockholdMMA.”

His story has a hole. When asked by a fan about the injury rumor, Tarec Saffiedine, who Henderson insinuated he trained with, responds, “havent seen him since my fight. Idk, hopes its not true!!”


August 23, 2012: Shit hits the fan. On an impromptu media call, UFC President Dana White reveals Henderson has a partial tear in his MCL. The UFC offered Chael Sonnen to Jones as a replacement. Jones, on the advice of his management and camp, turned the fight down. As such, for the first time in company history, the UFC cancels an event.

White blasts Jones’ head trainer Greg Jackson: “I’ll go on the record saying, this guy is a fucking sport killer! This guy is from another planet. I’ve never even seen anything like it in my life.

“Saying if Jon Jones takes the fight with Chael Sonnen it’d be the biggest mistake of his entire career because he’s not ready for that guy? Greg Jackson should never be interviewed by anybody ever again. Except by a psychiatrist.”

Then he moved on to Jones himself: “Good for you Jon Jones; you’re rich and you’ve got some money. You don’t need to take this fight, but there’s are a bunch of guys on the undercard that this is how they feed their family. This is how they make their living.

“This is one of those disgusting decisions that doesn’t just effect you. You just affected 16 other people’s lives. I don’t think this is a decision that is going to make Jon Jones popular with the fans, sponsors, cable distributors, television network executives, or other fighters.”

Jackson responds on The MMA Show: “I was asked if it was smart to take a fight on three days notice and I don’t think it’s smart to do that. Three days to fight a guy that caliber is not a smart thing to do. I’m not trying to ruin the sport or cancel an event. I don’t know about that stuff, but thought it wasn’t a wise course of action.”

“I really like Dana and respect him…there is no ill feelings. I’m more confused than anything else.

“I didn’t know they had it all riding on one fight. It’s one of those things…as a trainer. I’ll give you my opinion. I’m not a yes man…I do what’s best for my guy. I’m surprised by the veracity of his response but that’s my opinion.”

On the call, White also announces Jones will meet Lyoto Machida at UFC 152 later in the month.

Machida’s manager Ed Soares: “Lyoto doesn’t even know about (the title shot) yet. He’s on the road to his family’s farm (in Brazil), and I haven’t been able to reach him all morning. I spoke to his brother, and (Lyoto is) on the highway and he has no cellphone reception.

“(The fight is) three weeks away, four weeks away. I still have to clear this with Lyoto.”


August 24, 2012: Not wanting to fight Jones Jones on four weeks notice, Machida turns down the fight. Vitor Belfort, scheduled to fight Alan Belcher at UFC 153, steps up in his place.

According to a report from MMA Fighting, Anderson Silva offered to step in and save the card.


September 7, 2012: MMA Fighting reports UFC 151′s cancellation cost all relevant parties $40MM.


September 20, 2012: At UFC 152′s pre-fight press conference, Jones denies he knew the UFC would cancel UFC 151 when he turned down a fight with Chael Sonnen. Jones and White, who missed the press conference, still have yet to be in the same room.


September 22, 2012: Jones escapes a close call in the first round and submits Belfort in the fourth with a nasty Americana. The pay-per-view draws 450,000 buys.


October 1, 2012: At the UFC on Fuel 5 post-fight press conference, White discusses the conversation he had with Jones the day before UFC 152:

“So, when I sat down with Jon Jones and we talked, I made a deal with Jon. I’m not going to say anything about Greg Jackson.

“I think you guys know my opinion and how I feel. It hasn’t changed. I’m just not going to talk about Greg Jackson. It’s good news. I will keep my big mouth shut about Greg Jackson. That’s part of my deal with Jones.”


October 16, 2012: The UFC announces Jones and Sonnen will coach opposite one another on the Ultimate Fighter before fighting each other on April 27th at UFC 159.


April 27, 2013: Jones obliterates Sonnen, stopping him with strikes at 4:33 of round one. Jones suffers a nasty dislocation of the big toe on his left foot, which could have caused a fight stoppage had the a commission noticed the injury between rounds.


June 10, 2013: The gift that keeps on giving. Chael Sonnen admits to Ariel Helwani that he and Dan Henderson “set up Jon Jones on eight days notice.” Dan Henderson denies any involvement, calling Sonnen’s statement a “little lie.”


Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at, also available as a podcast via iTunes.




Marlene Taborda