President Dana White said today that Vitor Belfort's desire to fight champ Jon Jones won him a title shot.
The desire of Chael Sonnen, who volunteered to save the ill-fated UFC 151, wasn't enough. White said the outspoken light-heavyweight didn't have enough time to prepare for UFC 152, and Belfort got the nod.
"People talk a lot of [expletive], but nobody's too excited to fight Jones right now," White said on a Tuesday call with media members. "When it came time for them to get the title shot, they turned it down. Vitor was calling (UFC executive) Lorenzo (Fertitta) up and said, 'I want this fight with Jon Jones so bad.'"
White praised Sonnen (28-12-1 MMA, 6-5 UFC), who most recently lost a second bid for middleweight champ Anderson Silva's middleweight belt, for stepping up to fight Jon Jones (16-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) when an injury forced Dan Henderson to withdraw from UFC 151. But when Jones denied Sonnen, prompting the cancelation of the Sept. 1 pay-per-view in Las Vegas, and Lyoto Machida turned down a title shot at UFC 152, Belfort (21-9 MMA, 10-5 UFC) was a better candidate for the Sept. 22 event.
"Vitor was already in camp," White said. "Vitor begged for the fight, and it made more sense."
Many fans and observers have questioned why the UFC chose Belfort, who before the short-notice opportunity was set to fight middleweight Alan Belcher at UFC 153, over Sonnen, who kickstarted an announced bid for the light-heavyweight title by calling out Jones.
White, however, said it wasn't a choice.
"Vitor stepped up and took the fight," he said. "Guys that were next in line for the fight wanted nothing to do with it."
But for critics, the UFC executive said anyone with doubts is welcome to sit out UFC 152.
"Don't watch it," White said. "If you don't like this fight and you don't think this is going to be a great fight, don't watch it."
UFC 152 takes place at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Sept. 22 with a main card on pay-per-view and prelims on FX and Facebook.
For more on UFC 152 in Toronto, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.