Morning Report: Chael Sonnen re-aims at Jon Jones; Dan Henderson eyes return to training

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Chael Sonnen's title window appeared all but closed after Jon Jones finished dispatching Vitor Befort last weekend at UFC 152. That is, until Dana White abruptly hurled it back open with this unexpected caveat at the ensuing post-fight press conference.

"(Sonnen's) going to call out Jon Jones, no doubt," the UFC President chuckled.

"I think there are other fights that make more sense ... (but) people do want to see it. If enough people want to see it, I guess I'd have to make it."

As it turns out, that little sliver of possibility was all Sonnen needed, because calling out Jones is exactly what "The American Gangster" did. And this time he brought the fire.

"Hey Jon," tweeted Sonnen. "What do you think will cost more? Your hospital tab or the settlement you made with the two broads from the backseat?"

Well, that's about as close to a haymaker as you can get with 140 characters.

In retrospect, it seems kind of reckless for White to let Sonnen know all he needs to do to be fast-tracked to a title shot is drum up some fan interest. It's like telling Carmelo Anthony all he needs to do to be a superstar is forget he has teammates and huck up 30 shots a game. It's just unleashing the bull in the china shop for the fun of it. You know what you're going to get with this tactic.

But hey, for all we know maybe it's just one last, subtly brilliant parting gift to "Bones" from the boss. Because Lord knows, this is only the beginning.

Now, onward to actual news.

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6 MUST-READ STORIES

Henderson to resume training next month. Injured UFC light heavyweight Dan Henderson is scheduled to resume training next month at Singapore's Evolve MMA alongside one of his former opponents, Rich Franklin.

Rebney answers White's criticism. After being accused of "borderline criminal" contract practices by Dana White, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney responded by flatly stating, "It's a very, very hypocritical statement."

Healy 'devastated,' Thomson open to interim title. Strikeforce title contender Pat Healy said he was devastated by the cancellation of Saturday's event and that, after investing in a complete training camp without a paycheck, he would've been more than willing to fight any replacement opponent to avoid a financial bind. Fellow Strikeforce lightweight Josh Thomson echoed Healy's sentiments and said he would've gladly stepped in to fight Healy for an interim title if it meant saving the event. Meanwhile, a statement from Showtime simply explained, "Without our headline fighter and main event or a marquee undercard, we reluctantly informed Strikeforce that we could not continue with plans for the telecast."

The MMA Hour. Ariel Helwani and The MMA Hour return with a lineup featuring Rampage Jackson in studio, along with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, Dan Hardy, Gilbert Melendez and Gian Villante.

Rampage, Mitrione clash. After discussing numerous topics on The MMA Hour -- including his injury withdrawal, Jon Jones, TRT, and his passion for the sport -- Quinton "Rampage" Jackson engaged in a war of words with Matt Mitrione, ultimately challenging the heavyweight to a winner-take-all fight.

UFC 152 medical suspensions. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones received an indefinite medical suspension in the wake of his title defense against Vitor Belfort at UFC 152. Jones will require an x-ray of his right arm before he can return to training.

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MEDIA STEW

So, this spectacular piece of footage popped up yesterday.

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BJJ blackbelt Ed O'Neill, of Al Bundy fame, joined Ryron and Rener Gracie for this week's Gracie Breakdown, which looks at Vitor Belfort's hail mary armbar and Jon Jones' fight-ending Americana.

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With everything going on, it's easy to forget there's a pretty damn good heavyweight fight slated for this weekend. Check out this extended preview for a closer look at both Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic.

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Sometimes a name says it all. This is one of those times. Ladies and gentlemen, "Mark Coleman, Wanderlei Silva And A Tub Of Body Oil."

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STILL GUNNIN'

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ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

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RETURN OF THE CREEPY ONE

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THEN YOU TOOK HIM DOWN, WHY?

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YOU BE THE JUDGE

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Monday, September 24, 2012):

The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale: Mike Pyle (23-8-1) vs. James Head (9-2)

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day sees Cory Braiterman pull no punches with: Strikeforce Cancellation Highlights Need to Close Up Shop

Strikeforce is becoming a punchline, and the joke isn't very good. People have been ragging on them - and for good reason - for many moons now, and this latest setback is just more gas for the fire.

I can already hear some of you saying, "Hey dummy, the UFC just cancelled an event too. You think they should close, too?!"

Now, I'll cachet this statement with one little caveat, if Strikeforce is willing to turn itself into a full fledged minor-league organization, the way Bellator is, then they should stick it out. What they're doing right now, which is pretending they're still a major force in MMA promoting, is a joke. Full on Strikefarce.

Them pretending they are a premier MMA organization is doing nothing but hurt their fighters who are being deprived of fights and of sponsorships. Bellator has put on 14 fights this year with another 11 planned before the year ends. Strikeforce has held five.

Five.

With this one cancelled, they are left with one more event scheduled for this year, and wouldn't ya know... that main event is also scrapped. How about that.

They're holding down fighters like Ronaldo Souza, who hasn't fought more than twice a year in four years despite not being injured. Fighters like Tyron Woodley, who hasn't fought more than twice a year in three years despite not being injured. Fighters like Gilbert Melendez, who was about to have only his fifth fight in the last three years - once again, despite not being injured (until now).

We're talking about a pair of consensus top-20 fighters and the number two ranked lightweight in the world not fighting simply because the promotion they're signed to isn't holding events.

If Strikeforce can't get their collective asses in gear and do one of two things, then they need to just face the facts that they're done. Either bring in enough people so their fighters can have the opportunity to get in the cage more than once in a blue moon or let some of the stars walk and bring in a bunch of young prospects to hold enough cards that way.

They haven't had a year of single-digit events since they were a fledgling regional promotion in 2008 - a plucky young org that was just starting to run a couple of events outside of California.

Look, they're clearly dying. Either end it, or reinvent it, but the way they're going now is a joke that's hurting the careers and livelihoods of the athletes in this sport and that's unacceptable.

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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