If you have been living under a rock, you are unaware of the story that has engulfed the MMA landscape. For the first time in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a pay-per-view event has been canceled. This unprecedented move has caused a firestorm of controversy, with venom being spewed in several directions.
Everyone has their own opinion on the subject, but the big question underneath all the chaos is: who’s to blame? Do we blame Jon Jones for refusing to fight with Chael Sonnen, who accepted the bout on eight days’ notice? Does the blame belong to Dan Henderson, who suffered the injury in the first place? Or, perhaps, the blame falls on some other element that is hiding in plain sight.
UFC 151 will go down as the event that never was, and Jones’ title fight has been moved to UFC 152 on 9/22. Lyoto Machida accepted the bout and declined it 24 hours later. In a decision that comes with a lot of rolling eyes, Vitor Belfort will step in and fight Jones for the title. Belfort hasn’t fought at light heavyweight in five years, and while he is one of the sport’s biggest names, he loses to top-notch competition. The amount of hate Jon Jones is receiving over these events would make Satan blush. In my humble opinion, 50% of the blame belongs to Jon Jones, and the other half falls on the UFC.
Why it’s Jon Jones’ fault: Because fighters fight and the best in the world should be able to take on all comers. This is not Boxing, where fights constantly fall through for these very shenanigans. Jones recently became the first MMA fighter to sign a global endorsement deal with Nike, and his current trajectory suggests he could be the most dominant fighter the sport has ever seen. He does not let me repeat; he does not want to lose his first fight under the Nike deal. Other athletes like LeBron James and Tiger Woods have multiple games in a season to prove their worth. In MMA, you are only as good as your last fight, and many people around Jones stand to lose a lot of money if he were to lose this fight. Success in any aspect of life changes a person. For better or for worse is always to be determined. Jon Jones, the fighter, is gone. Jon Jones, the businessman, is here to stay.
Why it’s the UFC’s fault: Because they are producing way too many events, and their fight cards are stretched thin. Before the boom, as I like to call it, UFC cards were stacked from top to bottom. If the main event fell through, another fight would take its place. Once the sport became popular, the promotion has been slowly moving towards the Boxing model where the main event is the only worth wild affair. Hardcore fans feared this as a byproduct of the sports’ ascension towards mainstream status. The result finally bit Zuffa in the ass because no one was going to pay $44.95 to watch Jay Herion fight when most don’t want to watch him for free.
In the end, does this really even matter? Most likely, Jon Jones will plow through Vitor Belfort, and everyone will forget about this entire ordeal. Unless Jon Jones does something else that draws the ire of MMA fans.
He wants everyone to like him, but it’s hard to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Mr. Jones, embrace who you are and just be real. Hell, pull off the old ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude routine. You know, walk down to the Octagon in a rhinestone robe with the Nike swoosh plastered on the back and gyrate your hips while saying your new sponsors catchphrase, “Bones Knows.”. I know this is not pro wrestling, but the bottom line is that Jon Jones should just turn heel.