Friday, August 24, 2012

Jon Jones responds: Good logic, but still no acceptance here

Jon Jones finally issued a response to the criticism that has befallen him in the last few hours.

Jones' logic isn't entirely unreasonable. He pointed out that he had trained for months to fight Dan Henderson, and by changing the opponent he would be unable to perform to the high caliber of a champion in the UFC.

At the same time, however, his mentality is indicative of a problem with true prize fighters.

A discussion on the local ESPN Radio here in Las Vegas pointed out that fans have been split over the decision Jones made and that, to their surprise, fighters were condemning his actions.

I completely understand why and it's why I don't accept his logic. In the martial arts that make up MMA, tournaments are regularly conducted where a fighter has to win about seven or eight fights in two days. There are some tournaments that will insert an alternate if a fighter is hurt on the last fight of the day.

The guy who has to face the alternate has fought three times that day and is fatigued, and now has to face an opponent who is fresh and, if he's been paying attention, should have an advantage on many because he got to sit and scout opponents. Bellator is similar in that they have alternate qualifiers to insert a fighter at any point in their season tournaments if someone gets hurt.

This mindset is a basic thought process and should have been understood by Jones. Instead, he chose to avoid the fight with Chael Sonnen even though he was in shape and Sonnen would have had next to no time to train for him.

But I think what bothers me even more is not just that he refused a fight. I don't like that he covered his financial ass here, and I don't think it was warranted because his charisma and size would keep him marketable even with a loss and no belt.

What really annoys me is that he just decided that he wasn't going to fight at all. There were many solutions to this problem that either side could have brought up.

Jones could have offered not to cut weight or stop at 215-220 pounds. That would have allowed Dana White to give him a fight with an undersized heavyweight in a catchweight or full-on heavyweight bout. It would protect Jones' reputation in the LHW class and would give him an incentive to win because winning in the highest weight class would add to his marketability.

If that wasn't feasible, Jones could offer to do a three-round non-title bout with an opponent, promising the opponent a proper title bout with a full camp if he could win the fight. It would have protected his title, would have allowed a guy outside the title picture to have a shot to become relevant (consequently making a fight with a low-level fighter more of an option), and if Jones did lose, he would have an immediate chance to make up for it in his next fight.

But Jones opted to dodge any chance of a fight happening. Jones opted to simply sit it out and let a fight card become irrelevant one week out.

Anderson Silva offered to do a fight the right way. Even though he hasn't had a camp going for months, he offered to move up to 205 pounds and fight a non-title bout to help save the card. Silva wouldn't put his belt on the line, same as Jones; however, he offered an alternative way to get him on a card that he wasn't even considered for.

Jones did nothing to endear himself to fight fans and in many ways hurt his marketability, as it's becoming harder and harder to want to back the PR nightmare that is Jon Jones.

In many ways, I do think this will blow over. I expect Jones to continue to be successful and do well. However, I hope Dana doesn't immediately act like everything is fine.

The best thing to do now is make this a marketable situation. If Jones does continue to win, why not take a page out of the Vince McMahon playbook and make Jones a Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Vince used to publically put down Stone Cold, which made his successes even more interesting for the fans. Rather than do the traditional "Oh, he's the best in the world" lip service, why not say something like "I cannot stand how much of a prima donna this guy is, but man, when he rolls his lazy ass out of bed and actually drags himself to the cage, he's nearly unstoppable."

Given Dana's history of being a wild man on the microphone, I wouldn't put it past him. And if he does, Jones' successes may put him at the level of the Miami Heat and Duke basketball: Brands led by pretentious douchebags who you want to see lose but have to respect when they win.

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