Some of the comments made by Chael Sonnen on Thursday regarding Jon Jones seemed very similar to those he directed towards another UFC champion, Anderson Silva. Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champion, turned down a fight with Sonnen for UFC 151 after consulting with his trainer, Greg Jackson.
Now, after having several hours to take everything in, we’ve found out that Jones will be facing Vitor Belfort in September at UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort. Sonnen, meanwhile, is still set to take on Forrest Griffin in December.
Many blame Jackson for the first UFC event in 11 years being called off completely, but not Sonnen. In fact, as he told Bleacher Report, Sonnen understands and respects Jackson’s decision-making.
“I really think quite highly of Greg Jackson. You have to understand his opinion and influence on Jon is earned,” Sonnen said. “Jon respects him. He earned that. I understand there are repercussions for coach Jackson, but that’s what he’s hired to do. He’s not an employee of the UFC. He’s a coach and he gave the advice to his athlete – I respect that. I think we should respect that he spoke his mind to his athlete that trusts him.”
UFC president Dana White was very vocal about his displeasure in both Jones and Jackson during a conference call on Thursday. Jackson has come under fire before by the brash boss for his game plans for certain fighters inside the Octagon.