Jon Jones on hot seat at UFC 152 press conference
By CHRIS DOUCETTE, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The countdown is on for the UFC 152 main event showdown between Jon ‘Bones’ Jones and Vitor ‘the Phenom’ Belfort — a fight that lacks animosity but at least has an interesting back story.
These two gladiators will go head to head at the Air Canada Centre Saturday night, but before they face each other in the Octagon they had to face the media at a pre-fight press conference Thursday.
There were actually six fighters in attendance at the Real Sports Bar & Grill.
But it was Jones who found himself on the hotseat, hit with a flurry of questions about his role in the debacle that prompted the UFC to cancel a card for the first time in its 20-year history.
The light heavyweight champ said he feels “horrible about how it all played out” and he apologized to fans, especially those who bought tickets to UFC 151 in Las Vegas.
“Even if I get booed, I’m still happy to be here,” Jones said. “I’m going to put on the best show I can for you guys, for sure.”
Most mixed martial arts fans know Jones was originally to fight Dan Henderson Sept. 1, but Hendo pulled out due to a knee injury.
Then with only eight days until fight night, the UFC tried to slot an eager Chael Sonnen into the main event. But Jones refused the bout.
The card was scrapped and an angry UFC President, Dana White, publicly chastised Jones.
A month later, Bones and his boss have yet to talk face to face and it was expected their first meeting would be at the UFC 152 press conference.
Unfortunately, White was a no show.
“I forgive Dana White for any insults he’s directed at me,” Jones said.
“(He) is a very passionate guy,” he added. “His passion is the reason all of us are here right now.”
Jones is expected to meet with the boss before the weigh-ins Friday when he’ll be dehydrated and weak.
Instead of telling White he forgives him, Jones should probably give him and big hug and say thank you.
The reality is without the story of how the Belfort- Jones fight came to be, there would be little talk about. The two combatants have done nothing to hype their confrontation leading up to UFC 152 and they have no history together.
Their fight has been billed as an old lion wanting one last kick at the can versus a young lion in the prime of his career.
Jones was only nine when Belfort first stepped into the Octagon in 1996. Belfort had three wins under his belt before he was 20, two in one night, earning him his nickname.
The MMA legend is the downswing of his fight career, but Belfort has won three of his last four UFC bouts, only losing to middleweight champ Anderson Silva.
“Vitor Belfort, in my opinion, is a lot more intimidating than Chael Sonnen,” said Jones, who was accused of being “afraid” of Sonnen.
“Chael Sonnen does not have knockout power,” Jones said.
Belfort has that “knockout power” and he’ll need it because Jones has looked unstoppable.
Even fans who don’t like Bones admit Belfort’s chances of snatching the belt are slim.
The co-main event between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson, two 125-pounders looking to become the UFC’s first ever flyweight champ, should be fast and furious.
But there was also no trash-talk leading up to this fight or at the press conference.
They did however share fond memories of a Cold Play concert they attended together a couple months ago at the ACC.
Michael ‘the Count’ Bisping, who was with the two flyweights at the Cold Play concert, was uncharacteristically quiet Thursday. His UFC 152 opponent, Brian Stann, had even less to say.
It seems the two middleweights plan to let their fists do their talking.
There are nine other bouts on the card.
All of the fighters will weigh-in Friday before squaring off the next night.