Will it happen again? Remember the first canceled event in UFC history

Remember the controversial card that didn't happen and all the confusion involving Jon Jones, Dana White and Dan Henderson

J. Jones and D. Henderson on the official UFC 151 poster (Photo: Disclosure/UFC)

Rumors about the holding (or not) of the duel between Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler are causing a real stir behind the scenes in the MMA community. The fear of most sports fans is that the fate of the card scheduled for June 29th will be the same as UFC 151: the first canceled event in the organization's history. Remember the company's controversial moment.

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The year was 2012. The then light heavyweight champion (up to 93kg) Jon Jones was scheduled to defend his belt for the fourth time against the veteran Dan Henderson. The two athletes would be the protagonists of the UFC 151 card, which would be held at Mandalay Bay, in Las Vegas (USA), on September 01st.

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However, on August 23, with just over a week to go before the event, Dana White announced via press conference that Dan Henderson he had torn his knee ligaments and that the duel with Jones would no longer happen. As if that weren't enough, the 'bombshell' would come next: UFC 151 was canceled by the organization due to the limited time available to find a new opponent.

“This is possibly one of my worst moments as UFC president in 11 years. For the first time in 11 years, we are canceling an event,” Dana said at a hastily organized press conference.

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According to Dana himself, Chael Sonnen He even offered to replace Hendo, however, Jones did not accept as he claimed that there would not be enough time to change his preparation strategy for a wrestler's match. Lyoto Machida was confirmed as the next rival even before the rival of Anderson Silva to get ready, but the karateka refused the confrontation at the last minute.

Amidst the first post-cancellation news, the Ultimate boss went so far as to blame the light heavyweight champion for canceling the event.

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Controversies behind the scenes

D. White at a press conference. Photo: Reproduction/Youtube @ufc

The days following the cancellation of UFC 151 were full of controversy behind the scenes and exchanges of accusations between Jon Jones, Dan Henderson and Dana White. The agent harshly criticized the challenger and accused him of hiding the injury for two weeks, which hindered the event's search for a replacement to face Jon Jones. However, the information about the omission of the torn ligaments was confirmed by the ex-Pride veteran, who claimed to believe that he would be recovered before September 01st.

Jones was heavily criticized by fans and the MMA community for not accepting to face Chael Sonnen with eight days of preparation. The champion defended himself by remembering that, as he owns the light heavyweight belt, he would not risk his reign by accepting any fight at any time just to satisfy the organization.

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'Bones' also accused Sonnen and Henderson, then teammates, of plotting together to hide the knee injury suffered by the veteran, so that Chael would have time to study Jones' game more closely and, later, offer himself as substitute.

The cancellation of UFC 151 generated losses of more than US$20 million for Ultimate, which had already spent this amount on marketing the event and also on the expenses of the fighters who would make up the card. Hotels, casinos, nightclubs, taxis and restaurants in Las Vegas also stopped collecting good amounts of money without the presence of MMA fans in the city.

To date, UFC 151 has been the only canceled event in the organization's history, with the exception of the period in which the Covid-19 pandemic was declared worldwide.

With Henderson's injury, Ultimate canceled UFC 151, but didn't leave Jones without fighting for long. The light heavyweight king was relocated to the UFC 152 card, which took place on September 22, in Toronto, Canada. The champion's new opponent was the Brazilian Vitor belfort and the North American emerged victorious with a submission in the fourth round.

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