In the world of MMA, August 23rd, 2012 will forever be known as a day that say the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, a sport that is quite familiar with black eyes, receive a black eye, but ironically enough, that same date may also be known as the day that Jon Jones became a superstar.
While it's doubtful that someone reading this hasn't heard the news of what happened to UFC 151, it's worth repeating. Due to a knee injury, Dan Henderson was forced out of the main event at UFC 151 against Jon Jones. With roughly eight days to go before the fight card takes place in Las Vegas, Dana White scoured the UFC roster to find a replacement, and he decided on Chael Sonnen.
Only one problem. Jon Jones wasn't interested in fighting anybody not named Dan Henderson on September 1st. Apparently, "Sport Killer" Greg Jackson (Dana White's jargon, not mine) advised Jones to decline the fight with Sonnen due to a lack of time to prepare for a new opponent.
What resulted was unprecedented. For the first time in the ZUFFA era, a UFC event was canceled eight days out. During a conference call today, Dana White basically blamed the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion for UFC 151's demise citing that Jones selfishly declined to fight. Logically speaking, Jon Jones' shouldn't receive all of the blame. It really should be direct towards Dana White and co. for not putting together a solid under-card beneath the main attraction.
Nevertheless, the bomb dropped and the sports world exploded. Coverage of the controversy was seemingly everywhere, including sports media juggernaut ESPN. There were also a large amount of fans and fighters that were enraged about what had transpired.
A lot of the rage likely stemmed from people not comprehending Jon Jones' line of thinking. He was offered a fight against an opponent in Chael Sonnen that hadn't spent a day in the gym preparing for the fight -- not to mention the fact that Sonnen hadn't competed at 205 in roughly seven years. Instead of taking a fight that likely would have produced one of the longest betting lines in Jon Jones' career, he declined. A decision that was as well-received as Lebron James' decision to play with the NBA Eastern Conference All-Star Team, excuse me, I mean the Miami Heat.
According to Jones' camp, turning down Chael was a "business" decision, and honestly, it may have been the smartest business decision of Jon Jones' life. By no means is Jon Jones a more likable human being because of this, but he is now a superstar, a box-office draw.
Instead of being a great fighter that hasn't really translated with the audience, Jon Jones now is detested by a large amount of people. He is the proverbial heel. Due to what happened Thursday, Jones became a fighter that people love to hate.
There were plenty of people that were "Jon Jones haters" before this, but turning down the fight was the straw that inevitably broke the camel's back for a large amount of people. He basically threw Marty Jannetty through the barber shop window.
At the end of the day all the hate that Jones is going to receive will end up being a positive because a vast majority of people are going to buy the PPVs that he fights on to watch him lose, and he's probably not going to lose for quite a while.
Before his fight with Dan Henderson every Jon Jones fight had the same story-line: "Jon Jones versus a guy that he is going to kill", but now that story-line has shifted to: "will this guy finally stop that asshole, Jon Jones." Instead of doing a decent buy-rate with Dan Henderson at UFC 151, Jon Jones is probably going to end up making a pretty penny off of his next fight against Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 due to people wanted to see his head on a swivel, and if a fight against Chael Sonnen every happens, it may be one of the biggest fights in UFC history.
Controversy creates cash. It's a line that former WCW booker Eric Bischoff often touted and even used as the title for his own autobiography, and it is absolutely true. Earlier this year, top boxer Manny Pacquaio was robbed against Timothy Bradley by the judges. Fans screamed conspiracy, and of course you had a faction of people saying that they would never watch another boxing match again. But realistically, that decision will end up making everyone involved a lot of money because the intrigue for the re-match will be through the roof. .
The same applies with Jon Jones. Today, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people heard his name and formulated some kind of opinion about him. Business-wise that's way better that nobody thinking about him.
Today was a terrible day for a lot of people, but it was a good day for one man. A man that is going to make a lot of money. A man that people love to hate. A man that became a superstar. A man named Jon Jones.