He didn't protect his belt he disgraced it. Do you know how you protect your belt? You defend it.
And, unless I miss my guess, if you don't fight you don't get paid and he could have easily asked for more money for a short notice opponent. And his actions have seriously damaged his reputation which will affect future sponsors and ppv rates - damaging his finances in the long run.
So what exactly did he protect? How does any of this work out for him? Having a belt doesn't help if nobody respects you or want to see you.
He is defending it on September 22nd against a far more dangerous opponent.
We had to wait an extra 20 some odd days for Jones to defend his belt where as Condit never defended it. He might as well of had a piece of paper that said 'IOU title shot', not a fake interim belt.
If you honestly think that all of this media attention about Jones is going to hurt his PPV buys your insane.
All press is good press, just ask Chael Sonnen. It doesn't matter if you're being talked about in a negative light. If you honestly think that the few hardcore fans that childishly boycott his PPVs is going to be outweighed by the fans drawn to buy his PPVs based on the massive media attention he's gotten in the last two weeks, then you're crazy as bat shit.
As for the respect issue you speak of, your post mirrors the kind of short term memory that the UFC fan has. It's the "what have you done for me lately' mentality that really makes me sick.
Jones made a poor decision in my mind not taking the fight, but people easily forget that this guy burst into the UFC with only 4 months training, ran through the likes of Bonnar, vladdi, vera, bader and Shogun on his way to the title, then put a whopping on Machida and Rashad.
After Anderson had his piss poor performances against Maia and Leites people soon forgot about them when he started smashing faces again.
You can bet your ass that when Jones starts smashing faces again people won't remember him turning down the Chael fight nor will they care if they do. As for the small amount of people that do remember and do care, it'll be people like you missing out on the mixed martial arts clinic he will be putting on in the coming years.