Jon Jones is a blue-chip talent. He is a rapidly rising megastar who has already compiled an amazing anthology of highlight moves. Legends such as Quinton Jackson and Shogun Rua have been completely dismantled by the youngest champion of all-time.
However, the most exciting MMA fighter on the planet is quickly becoming the least popular one. Despite his prodigious talent, he cannot overcome his youth.
His immaturity was once again exposed as he tried to defend himself for not accepting the now infamous non-fight with Chael Sonnen at the cancelled UFC 151.
In an interview with Ariel Helwani, he befuddled fans with non sequiturs and misinformation that were certain to exacerbate his lack of popularity. The link for that interview is provided below.
The electric champ should not be lambasted for turning down a fight on eight days notice. It would have been noble if he had taken the contest, but he deserves an opportunity to properly prepare to defend his title. While a champion is obliged to defend his title, they should be given time to prepare for a different fighter. Contrary to Dana White's analysis, Jones is correct in that Chael and Henderson are much different opponents.
Dan has a powerful right hand, and Chael has limited power in his hands and is a southpaw. Sonnen prefers to attack with power double-leg takedowns, while Dan prefers the clinch. "Hendo" will often allow an opponent to get back to their feet where Sonnen loves to smother from top guard position. J.J.'s refusal of the fight may be forgiven, it did seem hypocritical though as Jones had posted this message on his Twitter account in May of 2012.
Jones further cited a reason for not taking the fight that seemed curious at best. He believed that Chael is not deserving of a fight with him and he, Jones, would not be anyone's "jackpot." Being a belt-holder automatically makes one a "jackpot" and that is an inherent responsibility of being a champion. One cannot refuse a fight for spite.
The champion, by definition, is one who defends the belt against whomever the organization chooses. It is, after all, the UFC belt and not the "Jon Jones " title. Jon should not be hubristic enough to refuse a fight because he feels the challenger beneath him. The esteem of the title is the "jackpot"- not Jones. This is especially true if this opponent is a last-ditch effort to save the show and no other viable option exists.
An ensuing argument seemed to contradict itself when he rated Chael as a dangerous top-five fighter but still deemed him unworthy. Jones went on to discredit Sonnen's UFC record (6-5) and falsely stated that Chael lost his last two fights.
Chael has not lost consecutive fights since 2004. In fact, he is 5-2 in his last seven fights, and in the two fights he lost against Anderson Silva, he won five of seven rounds. On one hand, he won't fight him because he is unworthy yet he regards him as a top-five fighter. Sound like convincing logic to you or more like the petulant rationalization of a spoiled brat?
With eight days to go, the promotion is warranted some flexibility in finding an opponent. The importance of filling the main event slot should be paramount over Jones' personal indignity to facing someone whom he deems to have not merited an opportunity to compete for his "jackpot."
Should Jon Jones have taken the Chael Sonnen fight at UFC 151?
Admittedly, Jon is correct in that Chael is not a ranked 205 fighter, as his recent fights have been at 185, but this speaks to the necessity of the situation. This would not have been a precedent. For example, Frankie Edgar's first fight at 145 is for a title, also due to an injury. Should Anderson Silva drop to 170, he would have an instant title shot verse GSP. This makes for great fights not the opposite.
Jon also accused Chael of being a racist because of his pejorative comments about Brazil. The inhabitants of Brazil are not their own race. They are compatriots. According to Wikipedia, over 48 percent of the population is white, which is the same ethnic group as Chael. Sonnen could be accused of xenophobia or cultural insensitivity, but just as Americans are not a race, nor are Brazilians. Taking the moral high ground by labeling one a racist seems to lack conviction.
Jones says that the UFC cannot ask him to put his livelihood on the line. Asking a fighter to fight seems rather commonplace, especially when the person is the champion and is officially sponsored by the promotion. They were not asking him to risk his livelihood by competing in a spelling bee. They asked the champ to defend his belt on the same night he had been contracted to compete under identical conditions but with a different opponent. Seems rational to me.
On Vitor Belfort, Jones' opponent for UFC 152, Jones states that he is honoured to fight him. This is Belfort's return to the UFC after competing in various other organizations. As a 19-year-old, he was the UFC Heavyweight Tournament winner. His return to the UFC has seen him go 3-1 and having never fought at 205.
It seems incongruent that Vitor, in Jones' mind, is a legitimate contender worthy of a title shot without having recently competed in this division, while Chael was an unacceptable last-minute replacement for the same reason.
"Bones" will amaze fans and be a massive PPV draw because of his fighting ability. No one can deny the entertainment value in watching him perform his art.
At 25, he has many more highlights to wow the world with. While many will watch to see him lose, no true fan will want to miss his shows. There is no true threat to the young lion's throne on the horizon. It appears, for the time being, that his toughest obstacle to overcome is his age.