Poor Jon Jones. Yesterday’s press conference was NEWS FLASH: JON JONES IS A D-BAG and a lot of people are agreeing with that sentiment. If you ask me he’s kinda getting scapegoated. It’s been a bad 2 years full of injuries and fight cancellations and it’s been pretty brutal losing Dos Santos – Overeem, GSP – Diaz, everything on UFC 149, and now Jones – Hendo. Fan discontent has been growing all year and Jones is bearing the brunt of it because he could have fought and decided not to.
Worse yet, he turned down the exciting kind of lemons to lemonade fight the UFC used to be pretty good at pulling together. Injuries are a reality in mixed martial arts but you never had to worry about a situation like UFC 151 because the UFC was always ready to bring in a replacement. Oftentimes the replacement would be less exciting, like when Vladimir Matyushenko replaced Vitor Belfort against Tito Ortiz with a week’s notice. But in this case the UFC served up a fight that might not have been as competitive as Bones vs Hendo, but was certainly just as compelling.
To have Bones turn down the fight, especially with the entire event on the line and the company reeling from injuries and cancellations, is pretty crazy. As Dana White has said, this never happens. UFC history is chock full of guys fighting last second replacements, because injuries happen a lot and the show must go on.
The UFC does so well because the league chugs along at a consistent pace putting on great fights that keep people’s interest in the sport. But with the great gypsy curse now nearing year 2, that shit is starting to sputter a bit. PPV numbers have taken a big hit. We’re seeing some pretty low numbers, and ratings on FOX are either great or abysmal according to who you ask.
In that context, it’s hard to understand how a guy like Jones – who’s made millions of dollars with the UFC and became champion off a late replacement fight against Shogun – can turn down a fight like this. Sure, it’s his prerogative. But he shouldn’t be surprised that everyone hates his guts because of it. Fighters fight. That’s how it’s always been in the UFC. But more and more we’re seeing situations where that isn’t the case, and it’s pissing fans off more and more.
Every time an athlete sets out another condition. Every time they try to meddle in the matchmaking process. Every time they turn down an opponent because it’s ‘lose-lose.’ And now when they refuse to fight last-minute replacements. This is the kind of thing we used to mock boxing about, and now we find ourselves knee deep in that shit. And Jon Jones is gonna take the brunt of all the anger, because he could have fought and he chose not to.