The last 45 days have been odd to say the least for the UFC and Strikeforce. The two ZUFFA owned promotions have continued to be hit with injuries, each have had to cancel an event and the UFC has witnessed fighters actually turning down fights. The latter of which started this bizarre world the UFC has been living in for the past month and a half and other fighters appear to be following suit.
Before UFC 151, the UFC had always been prideful in their ability to fill voids left by late injuries and more often than not the fights they made were better than the original. Since UFC 151 and its subsequent cancellation that has not been the case and ZUFFA has seemingly been in scrambling mode ever since.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones turns down fight with Chael Sonnen (UFC 151)
After Dan Henderson reported his injury to the proper authorities, the UFC needed a replacement fighter to take on the light heavyweight champion. Unable to contact their first choice (Lyoto Machida) they turned to Chael Sonnen who quickly accepted the fight. Problem was the champ didn’t accept the fight and the promotion opted to cancel the event.
Lyoto Machida turns down title fight with Jon Jones (UFC 152)
After UFC President Dana White announced that UFC 151 would be canceled, he announced that Lyoto Machida would face Jon Jones at the next event, which was UFC 152. Without an agreement in place the promotion was making an assumption that Machida would in fact accept the fight, but little did they know he would not. Even though he had four weeks, Machida wanted the fight to be moved to UFC 153 and thus turned down the fight. The MMA Veteran Vitor Belfort would step in and nearly pulled off a huge upset in the UFC 152 main event.
Rashad Evans turned down Glover Teixeira (UFC 153)
UFC 153 in Brazil has seen its share of injuries at the top of the card and when Quinton “Rampage” Jackson withdrew from his fight against the highly touted Glover Teixeira, Dana White and crew looked to former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans to step in on short notice. The Ultimate fighter winner has been out of action since losing to Jon Jones back in April at UFC 145 and turned it down.
“They offered me a fight, but it was against Glover Teixeira and I only had three weeks to fight and I haven’t been training. I was like, no way, not with that notice in Brazil,” explained Evans during the UFC 152 post fight show.
Fabio Maldonado ended up being the late replacement and now faces Teixeira on the UFC 153 main card.
Matt Mitrione turned down Daniel Cormier (Strikeforce: Cormier vs. TBA)
ZUFFA’s other promotion hasn’t been immune to the craziness either. They recently canceled an event of their own and are now looking for an opponent for the heavyweight grand prix winner Daniel Cormier after Frank Mir was injured during training. After an extensive search ZUFFA thought they had their man but like the other’s above, that fighter turned it down.
“It f—ing makes me sick,” White said. “Listen, you don’t want big opportunities, I hear you. I get it, then. All I can say is, I guess he doesn’t want big opportunities. I get it. Duly noted,” said Dana White.
White was referring to the UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione who turned down the high-profile fight with Cormier to instead keep his originally scheduled bout against Philip De Fries at UFC 155 on December 29th. The search continues for a fighter opposite Cormier at the November 3rd card.
Now you can argue that some of these decisions to turn down fights actually make sense, while others not so much. What is happening now though is more and more fighters in the UFC are picking and choosing their fights, which of course includes turning down offered fights. Now that’s not to say everyone is following this trend just that whether right or wrong it’s the new trend happening in the UFC.