UFC 151 is the story that just won’t go away. UFC champion Jon Jones is now starting to speak out against his critics and give his side of the story. Unfortunately the champ is doing more damage with every word that comes out of his mouth.
I won’t rehash all of the specifics of UFC 151 because if you are taking the time to read this blog, chances are good you already know what happened. Jones has been vilified by the UFC, fans, media, and fellow fighters for refusing to fight Chael Sonnen on eight days notice. Dana White blamed the cancellation of UFC 151 on Jones unwillingness to take the fight. Jon Jones disagrees.
[adinserter block=”2″]Jones gave a fascinating interview to Ariel Helwani on MMAFighting.com. What is so fascinating to me is just how clueless Jon Jones really is. He certainly doesn’t come off as the great businessman he proclaims himself to be in this 40-plus minute interview. The irony is that while I don’t think Jones did anything wrong, I came away from this interview liking Bones less than I ever did before.
What Jones is missing in this big picture here is that people really don’t like him because they think he is phony and arrogant. That is fine if he is trying to be a pro wrestling heel, but a guy with a Nike endorsement needs people to like him. Jones compares himself at one point to LeBron James talking about the criticism James gets, but Jones is missing a key point. The NBA and MMA are two entirely different sports with different sized audiences. James can afford to be hated by 25% of the NBA audience because that leaves 75% of millions people to market to. Jon Jones doesn’t have much left to market to if 75% of the MMA audience finds him unlikable.
One point Jones makes which is very important to this whole mess is that he claims Dana White never told him that UFC 151 would be cancelled if he didn’t fight. That is a big difference maker if true. I find it hard to believe after listening to White for a week rant on Jones and Greg Jackson that this point was never conveyed to Bones. If this is true, it is really hard to blame Jones.
Jones talked quite a bit about why he turned down the fight. Quite honestly, I still don’t understand it. While I do believe that he has every right to accept and turn down fights as he pleases, he only seems to muddy the waters here with this convoluted attempt at an explanation.
“The main reason I didn’t take the fight is basically because I talked to my head coach, my muay thai coach and my boxing coach, they know my weaknesses and strengths, they know how my muscles react. Each coach said, straight away that they think I can win the fight but they ALSO said that the want me to be aware that the styles are different, They have different kinds of clinch games, different takedowns… I’m not going to go through all the details of his game because it will sound tacky to those who don’t understand fighting but to sum it up, Chael Sonnen is a southpaw, has different takedowns, different subs, different ground and pound, he’s just a completely different warrior. Taking the fight would be ignorant.“
One thing that is incredibly irritating about Jones throughout the interview is that you get the impression he is talking down to the fans. Jones repeats throughout the interview how fans don’t understand MMA and don’t understand the business of MMA. Jones at one point says he is trying to educate the fans. You don’t need to be a chef to criticize bad cooking. Telling someone they are an idiot and that he is here to enlighten them is probably not the best way to make amends with a fan base that absolutely hates you.
One of the points Jones makes is a great one, yet again his approach will only get him more heat with fans, fighters, and the UFC. When asked about other fighters criticizing him he says, “All the fighters that are insulting me on the card, I’m not the one who is saying that you’re not good enough for pay per view.”
As much as you may hate Jones, he is right. That is what I never understood in the first place. Dana White put the blame on Jones for costing fighter’s their payoffs and the UFC losing $2 million in advertising. The UFC cancelled the show! The UFC could have proceeded with the show, charged money, and taken one on the chin for the fighters on the show. The UFC chose not to proceed with the show because they presumed nobody would buy it. Why not go on with the show and offer fans a free PPV with a purchase of UFC 151? The reason the UFC cancelled the show is in essence, because the fights they booked weren’t strong enough to sell. That is not Jones’ fault. However, I probably wouldn’t have said it the same way.
One of the biggest reasons the MMA community hates Bones is because they think he is fake. The consistent preaching of religion and family has made Jones a big target. Jones however still doesn’t get it. Jones continues to preach religion in the interview and at one point says all he has ever tried to do was be a good representative for the UFC. I’d be a lot more empathetic if the man wasn’t arrested just a few months ago for totaling his Bentley drunk with two women in the car in the early hours of the morning.
[adinserter block=”1″]The line that is really getting attention is when Jones responded to a question about how he felt about Dana’s tirade on the conference call. White blasted Jones on the call and Jones wasn’t happy.
“I felt like a piece of meat.”
I never disliked Jon Jones and I even blogged last week about how Dan Henderson was to blame for this mess, but Bones is doing himself no favors with these interviews. One of the first things a good “corporation” will do as he calls himself is hire a publicist. It’s time for Jon Jones to get one!
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