The accolades are flying, the praise is being sung and the reports of the superhuman feats of Jon Bones Jones are starting to circulate the MMA landscape. Some people are saying Jones is the Future of MMA, the best chance for a sustained champion in the LHW division post Chuck Lidell. Others believe, Jones is full of potential, naturally athletic and may have been fortunate to fight Shogun when he did. The conventional wisdom is, Bones has as much or more talent then anyone in the UFC, but.... is still a raw, developing prospect that has been spoon fed his opposition. Zuffa are licking there chops with Jones. His combination of size, speed, athleticism, charisma and brutal stopping power are just the platform they envisioned to capture a new market of fans.
Let's face facts. Jon Jones beat the hell out of Shogun, it was top to bottom a complete destruction. Not many experts believed Jones would dismantle the champion so easily. It was within the realm of possibility that Bones could have won, but not by such a dominating fashion. Ok, let's look at Bones and the appeal he has and why it is very important to not only Zuffa, but, American MMA and the African-American community. I did a little research on UFC.com, I was interested to see how many Black fighters were on the UFC roster. After going division by division it turns out that African- American fighters in Zuffa are a rare occurance. Unlike the NFL and NBA black male fighters represent 6.25% of the Zuffa roster. Compare and contrast that with the NFL. According to the 2009 opening day rosters of all NFL teams, 65% of all NFL players were of African-American race. The NBA is an even larger number. Also, according to the opening day rosters of the 2008-2009 season, Blacks represented 82% of NBA players. Now what does all this mean? It means that Blacks are severely under represented in the UFC. It also means that the UFC have a product that caters to white males 18-35. So, "If" the UFC and Zuffa want to continue the current growth in America, they need to bring American black males into the dance. 6.25% is a surprising number. I find it hard for young black males in America to be major UFC fans, if the Super Bowl of MMA is mostly white, South American, European White and Asian. How do you expect young black males to love a sport they aren't able to relate with. Like many other kids growing up, I loved Larry Bird. I was white, he was white and I loved basketball. Now, with that said who do black kids look up too in the UFC? Rashad Evans? Yes he was champ for awhile. Made famous on TUF and had a good run. Rampage? Rampage had is time in the sun and it has come and gone. Anderson Silva? He is Brazilian, so how much will American blacks relate to a guy they cannot understand? A long term reign at LHW will help grow Zuffa in an untapped market. The longer Bones reigns, the more fans he will be able to attract to the UFC and MMA. For this I believe Jon Jones needs to change his name from Bones too the Pied Piper. Zuffa are crossing their fingers and hoping that Jones will fulfill his lofty expectations. If he does, both Zuffa and Bones will be laughing all the way too the bank.