Jones had a brilliant year. So brilliant, in fact, that he should rightly take home this award without even so much as calling for a vote.
But it's not that simple, really. The ESPYS aren't about who is most deserving. If that were actually the case, Silva would already have two of these trophies collecting sheet-rock dust in his new California home.
And the ESPYS certainly aren't about putting on an entertaining television broadcast, but that's another story for another day.
No, the ESPYS have always been about placating the mainstream. And, as much as we like to think that mixed martial artists are global superstars and household names, they're just not. They're gaining plenty of traction in the sporting world, the kind that should put them on more equal footing with boxers going forward, but it's been a long, tough road, and there are plenty of miles left to travel.
But let's look at the four nominees for the Fighter of the Year award and check out what they did over the past 12 months:
- Floyd Mayweather: Beat Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto
- Andre Ward: Beat Carl Froch
- Jon Jones: Beat Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans
- Anderson Silva: Beat Yushin Okami
I'm not really sure how one fight/win can qualify you for Fighter of the Year, but I suppose that's one reason The ESPYS are a source of constant mockery.
Since last July—the date the voting period began—Jones is 3-0 against the best competition the UFC's light heavyweight division had to offer, and he got those wins in dominant fashion. Mayweather is the only other fighter in the group deserving of a nomination, and I can't place his level of competition even remotely close to what Jones faced.
If all is right with the world, Jones will win this award for his awesome accomplishments since last summer. But since it's ESPN and the ESPYS, I won't hold my breath.
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