Jon “Bones” Jones has rarely had the support of the MMA fanbase, but when he takes on Vitor Belfort at UFC 152, he will likely receive the kind of hostile reception not witnessed since the Iron Sheik was Camel Clutching all things red, white and blue in the early 1980s.
This article would have been a little more challenging had I decided to write it a few weeks ago, but things change quickly in the world of mixed martial arts.
In the time it took to hold a conference call, Jon Jones went from bankable commodity to public enemy No.1 in the eyes of many fans, and his fickle employer.
It goes without saying, then, that the current light heavyweight king will not be adopting the role of babyface when he takes to the cage in a couple of weeks.
In addition to “Bones’” calamitous exploits outside of the Octagon, he will be facing a sentimental favourite in Vitor Belfort. The Brazilian has enjoyed a stellar career, thrilling fans with his blinding hand speed.
One could argue that the former heavyweight tournament champion has already seen his best days go by, but sports fans generally love an underdog—and Belfort is most certainly that.
Indeed, the TUF Brazil coach is listed at between +550 and +650 by some oddsmakers, while Jones is a prohibitive favourite at -900.
Undoubtedly, the fans at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto will rally behind the outmatched Belfort, adopting him as their champion, in the hope that he will defend their honour against the “card-murdering” Jones—or so Dana White would have us believe.
Will it make a difference to the outcome of the fight? Probably not, but at least the storyline adds another dimension to a fight that is otherwise void of intrigue.