|UFC boss Dana White (left) and light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones have yet to meet since the cancellation of UFC 151. (MICHAEL COHEN/ZUFFA LLC)
TORONTO - If Jon Jones and UFC president Dana White can agree on one thing, it’s that they just want to put the ugliness surrounding UFC 151 behind them.
After Dan Henderson backed out of the Sept. 1 event due to a partially torn MCL, Jones turned down a replacement bout against Chael Sonnen. With no main event in place, the UFC opted to scrap the card entirely.
White then lashed out at Jones and trainer Greg Jackson during a conference call, calling the UFC light-heavyweight champion “selfish” and Jackson a “sport killer.”
Jones is now scheduled to defend his belt against former titleholder Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre on Sept. 22. White said he will sit down with the 25-year-old fighter in Toronto to bury the hatchet.
“Jon and I haven’t see each other yet since that whole thing,” White said on a recent media call. “We’ll see each other in Toronto. He and I will get in a room face-to-face and talk. I’ve been in the business for 12 years and I’ve dealt with just about everybody you can deal with. Good guys, bad guys — and Jon Jones isn’t a bad guy.
“I don’t take back anything I said. He and I will get into a room in Toronto and we’ll talk face-to-face.”
Though Jones stands by his decision not to fight Sonnen, he is looking forward to speaking with White.
“I’m over it, man. I really am,” Jones said. “I’m actually getting more and more excited to talk to Dana and get this behind us. The UFC is an awesome brand. In that situation, I had to stand up for myself and do what was right.
“But at the same time, me holding a personal beef with Dana gets me nowhere. He’s still my boss at the end of the day. He has every right to express how he feels — he has freedom of speech. I said some things about how I felt Dana handled the situation.
“Greg Jackson said it best: Dana is a very passionate guy. He uses that passion and goes into these meetings with CEOs who want nothing to do with the UFC and he convinces them with his passion why they should invest with the UFC. So you take a guy who can be emotional and passionate, and you get on that guy’s bad side, then you’re going to hear things that you don’t expect to hear. Was I surprised by the way he talked about me and kind of belittled me? I was surprised by it, but at the same time, I’m educated by it, forever better by it and I’m over it.”
- Stephen Bonnar will meet Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro on Oct. 13. The bout sees Silva return to light-heavyweight for the first time since knocking out Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 more than three years ago.
- With Quinton (Rampage) Jackson out of the UFC 153 co-main event, Brazilian slugger Glover Teixeira now faces countryman Fabio Maldonado.
- Chris Leben is set to return against Karlos Vemola at UFC 155 in Las Vegas on Dec. 29. Following a TKO loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 138 last November, Leben was suspended for one year after testing positive for painkillers oxycodone and oxymorphone.
- Former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez will headline Bellator 76 against Patricky (Pitbull) Freire in Windsor, Ont., on Oct. 12. This marks the final bout on Alvarez’s current contract.
- UFC 152 takes place Sept. 22 in Toronto and features a light-heavyweight title bout between Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort. Also, Demetrious Johnson faces Joseph Benavidez for the inaugural UFC flyweight championship.
- UFC on FUEL TV 5 goes down Sept. 29 from Nottingham, England. The card will be headlined by heavyweight scrap between Stipe Miocic and Stefan Struve.
- STRIKEFORCE: Melendez vs. Healy is set for Sept. 29 in Sacramento, Calif., and will see Gilbert Melendez defend the lightweight championship against Pat Healy. Canadian fans can catch the card on Super Channel.