Jon Jones has put himself in a no-win situation.
After refusing to fight Chael Sonnen—a move that forced Dana White to cancel UFC 151 and shuffle the cards for the next venue in Toronto, Canada—Jones has drawn the ire of White, not to mention a host of UFC fans.
According to the UFC:
UFC 151 news from Dana: "This is one of my all-time lows as president... For the first time in 11 years we're gonna cancel an event."— UFC (@ufc) August 23, 2012
White can't just strip Jones of his title, though I'm betting the thought has crossed his mind a few times. Instead, he has moved the Jones vs. Machida 2 fight into UFC 152 (now 151). If Machida wins, though, White may just have the leverage he needs to pop what has become an irritating pimple on his behind.
If Jones wins, he'll become a true heel for the UFC, to borrow a term from the wrestling world. The only problem with that is that Nike—Jones' newest sponsor—hasn't traditionally been down with athletes who have a negative image.
Jones had nothing to lose by fighting Sonnen, who is just coming off a loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 148. He is stronger and faster than Sonnen, but taking the fight would have allowed White and the UFC to cut their losses after Dan Henderson went down with a knee injury.
Instead, Jones spurned the UFC when it needed him the most.
Nike hasn't yet spoken on the subject, but I don't see how there's any positive way to spin this story. The company's image has always been about champions, winners and athletes that persevere. Jones' decision to turn down a fight goes against that image, as far as I'm concerned.
Jones has gotten himself into a lose-lose scenario. If he wins the fight, he's even more under the skin of White and will become a demonized champ. If he loses the fight, his image will take an even bigger hit than it would've if he'd fought and lost to Sonnen.
Machida needs to figure out a way to stay aggressive with his strikes while simultaneously avoiding Jones' clutches for a decisive victory over the man who beat him back at UFC 140.
That would be sweet justice, as Jones would finally get what he deserves.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78