We can sit around and debate who’s to blame until the end of time, but what we can’t debate is whether this will happen again. Though this is a first for the UFC brand, it will not be the last. As UFC and the MMA continue to grow, so too will the sponsorships, bank accounts, and yes, the ego’s of the elite fighters. Jon Jones and Anderson Silva are the two best pound for pound fighters in the world, and not ironically, they are also the first two MMA fighters to be sponsored by Nike. Nike’s investment in MMA is monumental for the sport (which is another article all together), but on a micro level, what this means for the UFC, is that they are no longer the only major organization invested in these two fighters. The UFC is no longer the only name on Anderson Silva’s and Jon Jones’ paychecks. Simply put, like in boxing, the athletes themselves are becoming more powerful and more popular than the organizations they fight in.
Though some might admonish Jon Jones and call him selfish, the difference between him and the majority of athletes in the UFC, is that he can afford to be selfish. As the UFC grows, and more fighters start to see "Jon Jones" type popularity and money, expect to see more of the same behavior. Jon Jones and Greg Jackson made a business decision, not a popular one. This is an example of risk management at it’s finest.
In all sports, especially combat sports, the window for fame is small. The great athletes are those that are able to keep their window open the longest.