Jon Jones hasn't had the best couple of weeks.
That's obviously an understatement. As we've already noted several times, "Bones" went from simply being a highly-polarizing fighter to a man who is very likely the most hated athlete in the UFC in the blink of an eye.
The alleged hits keep on coming, too. This week's edition of Dave Meltzer's excellent Wrestling Observer newsletter (subscription required) reports a surprising piece of news: that Jones called Dana White before any of the brouhaha surrounding UFC 151 started and asked him to make Sonnen stop talking about him.
If true, this isn't a good look for Jones. He is, at the very worst, the second- or third-best fighter on this entire planet. And yet, time and time again, he's displayed the thinnest skin I can remember seeing on a top-tier athlete.
I know from first-hand experience how sensitive he can be on certain subjects. You don't ever want to call him "kid," for example, because that will incite a scoff and an incredulous reaction, as if you're truly and clinically insane for not assuming that a 23-year-old (at the time) wonderkid of a fighter is not a fully grown and mature man with wisdom and experience beyond his years.
Jones has been through one heck of a storm lately. It's true that most of what he's experienced over the past summer has been forged at his own hand, but it's also true that he clearly needs a bit of schooling in the art of public relations.
His unfortunate Twitter comments saying that he was electing to "carry the cross" for the UFC's decision to cancel UFC 151 would have totally been avoided if he chose to listen to people around him who, while they may not be amazing athletes with preternatural fighting skill, are still quite versed in dealing with the public.
Public relations is an art form in itself. And it's clearly an art that Jones has yet to master. If he has any hope of reversing this slide into villainy—and it will take more than a few press releases and hand-selected interviews—Jones must learn how to properly relate to people, to tell them something approximating the truth instead of just saying what he thinks they want to hear.
And he must learn, above all else, that being a famous athlete in the public spectrum opens you up to criticism, both from the fans and the media as well as fellow fighters.
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