In the flurry of news that came out of the cancellation of UFC 151, Jon Jones' decision to not fight Chael Sonnen and all the bickering from all sides, one thing we overlooked was a small item thrown into a recent Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports article. It appears that Jones has become so difficult to deal with from a PR perspective that his publicist, John Fuller walked away from the UFC superstar.
From Iole's column:
As Jones has gotten more successful in the cage - his 2011 campaign might be the best in the sport's history - his popularity has waned among fans and media. His publicist quit last week, frustrated by Jones' prickly style and inability to deal well with the media.
Having a publicist quit over an inability to effectively work with media puts Jon Jones in the company of people like Charlie Sheen, Chris Brown and Paula Deen.
The problems with not having a publicist were front and center as the UFC 151 situation spiraled out of control.
As UFC president Dana White trashed Jon Jones on the media conference call to announce the cancellation of the event, we heard nothing of substance from the champion or his management. As Jones became the target of fan and fighter derision, we heard nothing beyond some appearances by Jones' trainers.
There was no well-crafted response. No conference call. No press release.
Eventually we saw a half-hearted apology on Twitter, which is a fine means of communication on good days, but not exactly a great way to manage a PR crisis.
But that's not exactly new in the Jon Jones Story. In 2011 I wrote a few times about how Jones and his management team were bungling the Rashad Evans situation, pulling out of the fight for what they described as voluntary surgery for a long standing injury, announcing that they now didn't need the surgery very shortly after Evans was booked into a fight with Phil Davis, then saying Jones would take a fight against someone who wasn't Rashad and then claiming that 8 weeks wasn't 8 weeks.
As I wrote back then, Jones didn't have to actually be ducking Rashad to look like he was ducking him. Obviously, when the two fought, Jones had very little trouble handling Evans.
But these public missteps add up over time. Jones' talk in the media about why he didn't want to fight Lyoto Machida again wasn't a big deal, it made a lot of sense. But it came on the heels of talking about not fighting Anderson Silva because of worries over "legacies" and money making. And then the refusal to fight Sonnen happened and, regardless of his reasons, a story was developing about all the fights Jones' either wouldn't take or didn't want to take.
And all this came after a horribly mishandled situation with Jones' DWI.
And now, with the current situation we've heard basically nothing from Jon's camp, just Jones talking about his willingness to "carrying the cross" for the UFC's decision to cancel UFC 151. Including "for my companies decision" turned it into the ultimate non-apology and rendered the Twitter (again, wrong place for it) apology meaningless to many fans.
For right now the sponsors are still showing up because Jon is an incredible, incredible fighter. But there's a certain threshold that can't be crossed without a guy becoming too poorly thought of to spend your money on him.