Fight fans used to throw around the question, "Would you fight Mike Tyson for a million dollars?" For most the answer was easy. "Hell yeah! A million bucks to get knocked out in the first round? Why not?"
The problem with that question is that the average fan had nothing at risk.
Now the question fight fans will throw around is, "Would you fight Chael Sonnen in 8 days?"
For Joe Schmoe, it's an easy "Yes." Again, no risk. But let's say you've spent a good chunk of your life working your way up the ladder at your job. You're the youngest ever to reach the top of your game. You're paid based on your larger-than-life name and reputation. And if you lose to Sonnen in 8 days, you will see that name and reputation lose a significant amount of its worth. Now would you do it?
Then let's make an assumption based on your company's history that you will most likely get another match up in a month or so, one you may be more comfortable with. You can take a big risk now with not much reward, or you can take a smaller risk then for a similar reward. Now would you do it?
The point is, Jon Jones didn't cancel UFC 151. Sure, he didn't gain any fans with his decision. He didn't bring that "anytime, anyone, anywhere" attitude that fans love to see. But he didn't make the final decision to cancel an entire fight card. And there is no evidence he knew his choice would lead to that.
Chael Sonnen is a good fighter, but he is known for his mouth. He has a knack for capitalizing on situations and maximizing publicity. He redefines self-promotion. For him, getting that call Wednesday night was a win-win situation.
If he somehow won that fight, he finally gets UFC gold. If he loses, fans would not think anything less of him. First fight back at 205, the smaller man on short notice, there would be plenty of reasons to point to.
For Jones, things look different from the top.
Fans, not being the decision makers of the sport, can only react. And there is, and will be for some time, plenty of spiteful reaction to be found.
So say what you want. Yes, Jones was ready. Yes, he had just gone through a training camp. Yes, Sonnen has a similar background to Henderson, with less risk of a KO. Yes, Jones is the king of the hill, and should accept all challengers.
But seriously, possibly risking much of your personal livelihood, would you fight Chael Sonnen in 8 days?