The UFC’s ‘Bones’ Jones dilemma - Zach Davis (AssaultMMA part of the Ball Hogs Radio Network)
Yesterday afternoon, Dana White announced what was a low point for him and the UFC. Dan Henderson was injured and out of the main event. The champion, Jon Jones had refused any replacement opponents (Chael Sonnen was first in line). The UFC would be cancelling their Mandalay Bay event, UFC 151, with 8 days notice. There would be no pay-per-view, no undercard, no refunds for fans flying out and booking hotels, no fighter paychecks and a lot of angry fans.
For a business trying its best to gets its feet and establish itself with the likes of the NBA and MLB this was a worst case scenario. There is a lot of blame to go around and it looks like Jon Jones will take the brunt of it. He deserves his fair share but there is plenty to go around.
Now first off, I don’t think Bones is scared of Chael Sonnen, he just can’t see the forest through the trees. Any fighter that regularly steps into the octagon is past fearing his opponents. The problem is Jones’ actions are short sighted and selfish. The UFC is a business that has allowed him to blossom into one of the brightest young stars in the sport and he is reaping the benefits. He has a lucrative Nike sponsorship, an industry first, and drives around in a Bentley (or at least used to). The company was in a tight spot and he refused to bend. The UFC was able to scramble and find suitable replacements. In the end they offered up Chael Sonnen, surely he would boost the PPV sales and the show would go on. But Jones would not budge.
He felt that 8 days was not enough time to prepare. Never mind the fact that he had been training months for a heavier, more accomplished Team Quest wrestler, in Dan Henderson. This isn’t swapping a Munoz for a Bisping. That is coupled with the fact that Sonnen was training for Forrest Griffin, who while tough is not exactly a carbon copy of Jon Jones. In the end, Jones wouldn’t risk his own “legacy” to face an inferior opponent to save a card that his company, fans and fellow fighters were depending on.
- Jeff Houghland: @JonnyBones Can I at least get one of your new Nike T-shirts? I’ll give it to my kid since I won’t have any money for her school clothes.
- Charlie Brenneman: @JonnyBones u can send my check to PO box 198. EH NJ. Rent is due the first, so preferably by then. Thanks. @ufc
It is easy to point the finger at Jon Jones and a real company man would have stepped up in the UFC’s time of need. However, this is the fight business and leaning so hard on one individual is a risky endeavor. The UFC should have been more conservative in their rapid expansion. Now they’ve run out of tricks up their sleeve. They have a right to be angry with Jones but it’s their own irresponsible business practices that have put them in this position.
In the end the UFC has fallen flat on its face out in Vegas. They are embarrassed and have thrown their champion under the bus. Despite it being deserved, the UFC will still need to market him in the future. Turning the entire fanbase against him isn’t exactly a prudent business decision. The biggest loser here is Jones. He is in the infancy of a legendary career but will always be remembered for leaving his fans hanging and sticking the UFC with the bill. He has struggled to connect with fans and this damage may be irreparable. Somehow, Chael Sonnen ended up on top, winning, even when he doesn’t fight.