Editors Note: I am not a huge fan of Mixed Martial Arts. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy it, but I couldn’t tell you the names of every fighter and their ranking, weight-class, etc. But when news came out that Jon Jones chose not to fight, which subsequently cancelled a UFC pay-per-view event, I was stunned. How did one fighter have the power to cancel an entire event? I knew he had a ‘fan-base’ by how many people were commenting at how ashamed they were of this guy. David Andersen is a diehard MMA fan and I felt he could give insight as to how this affects Jon Jones and what it means for the UFC. Follow him @topherandersen
I am not a fan of Jon Jones. Not in a “hating bandwagon” sort of way. It’s the intangibles. I don’t enjoy his pre-fight interviews, I don’t enjoy his mentality. I don’t enjoy the invincibility placed on him by the UFC, as we all know, Fedor was once invincible too. I do, however, respect his talents immensely. Part of the appeal in MMA is watching interesting matchups. Rashad had the hand speed to dethrone the Champ. Machida had the funky stand-up and BJJ background that no fighter had forced Jones to deal with. Rampage…well let’s forget about that fight altogether. Jon Jones is incredibly talented, and yes, has the potential to become the pound-for-pound greatest fighter on the planet, or GOAT, for those who subscribe to that logic. The only this holding Jon Jones back, is Jon Jones.
Jones likes to talk about legacy and respect. He talks about being dutiful and diligent, as well as proud and reckless with his words in any form, whether interviews, Twitter, or post-fight banter. Jones also likes to talk about what it takes to be a champion. Champions fight, and fight with a sense of pride and honor. He once said that he had not and would not ever turn down any MMA fight. Man of his word, I suppose. Jones has become the antithesis of the grounded fighter he claims to be, at least outwardly. He has no camera finesse, his carefully crafted public personality put best on display after choking out Machida at UFC 140 last year when his corner urged him to check up on Machida, to gain some fans. After seeing how carefully controlled his actions were outside the cage it was shocking to hear about his DWI( Google: Jon Jones Bentley), and subsequent lack of apology to those who looked up to him as both a fighter and a human being. He went so far as to call MMA fans fickle, and denouncing the haters as if he didn’t need to apologize for what he did. The ammunition keeps coming, seemingly forcing MMA fans to scoff at his talk about honor and responsibility as well as his incessant droning about building his legacy. Fast forward to last week, when Jon Jones called himself a businessman and professed his love of money, while somewhat hinting at his love of MMA in there sporadically.
Jones didn’t want to fight Chael Sonnen. That’s fine and dandy, after all- Anderson Silva didn’t either. The thing is when you make “Anderson Silva money” you face all comers. You destroy them like Silva does, and you go on with you life, take care of your family, and overall live up to the mold of the person you claim to be. Jones’ decision impacted a lot more than just the business he works for. Sure the UFC stands to lose millions of dollars from ticket sales, pay-per-view buys, as well as advertising and continued exposure. They will recoup this. Fighters now lose their sponsorship money, their trainers fees and possibilities of the incredible post-fight and non-discretionary bonuses the UFC hands out for quality fights. The list continues. The fans who bought plane tickets, and hotel reservations are also out of luck.
Jon Jones had an obligation to his fans, to his fellow fighters, and to his employers to keep his end of the bargain. He simply didn’t follow through. I’m sure financially most fighters involved will be fine, but Jones’ lack of earnest apology and real remorse for being the cause of the first event cancellation in UFC history is quite the misstep. Some might pin this on the UFC, for cancelling the event itself, but in a summer full of fighter injuries and overall depleted cards, the UFC light-heavyweight division didn’t have the fighters at their disposal to plug this hole. And for those who called for Ellenberger vs Hieron to be promoted to the main event at UFC 151, you should know better. As you might recall, Josh Koscheck was scratched with injury as well, and Hieron is back after 7 years and is 0-2 in the UFC, losing to Jonathan Goulet of all people. Tell me how you sell that fight.
Jones’ legacy will, or at least should, forever be tarnished and he has some real making up to do in the eyes of the general MMA public. He may have been looking out for himself and his family, but if he wants a long illustrious career, full of accolades and respect from fighters and fans alike, he’s got a lot of work to do.