It's no secret that Jon Jones has become the most hated guy in MMA right now. He's been the focal point of all the negativity surrounding the UFC 151 debacle. Although not entirely his fault, Jones has been the one to point the finger at as "the bad guy."
With such a strong resentment surrounding him, many fans were anticipating a "heel turn" of sorts for the champion. But Jones has no plans of embracing his role as a villain in MMA. MMAWeekly has the story:
“I am not going to say I embraced the role of being a villain because I am not,” Jones told MMAWeekly.com recently. “I am not a villain; I am not a bad person. I pride myself off of inspiring others. For all the people that think I am cocky, it’s like if you really listen to what I talk about, if you talk to me about fighting you may hear something that is a little arrogant because, right now, I train so hard to not even get hit, let alone talk about rousing a fight."
Jones has been very defensive about the attacks that have come his way from fans, fighters and Dana White. The champ has seemingly accepted he is at some fault for how UFC 151 went down, but has been quick to point out it's not all his fault.
Most of the attacks on Jones throughout his career have come due to his personality rather than his fighting skills. Although he seems to be without a weakness in the Octagon, his aura of invincibility outside it has always been under fire. Yet Jones insists the fans have it wrong.
“I am the nicest person ever to everyone who has ever met me,” Jones said. “I’m the nicest person to people. Every day I walk into Jackson’s gym and I hand out boxes of equipment. I order stuff all the time for my teammates and just give it out. I just give it to people. I am like the nicest person ever.”
Further in the article, Michael Bisping gave his thoughts on embracing the role of villain to UFC fans. Bisping entered the UFC with quite a fan following, but has since become one of the most despised men in the sport.
I got cheered at first. I fought at UFC 66 when Chuck Liddell fought Tito (Ortiz) for the second time, and that was in Vegas, and the crowd was fantastic. It wasn’t long before they were all booing me. It’s hard to transition. We’re all human beings, we’re sensitive, especially fighters. We’re emotional, sensitive people.
It's not that Bisping went off the deep end and started insulting fans, but rather, he finally took the filter off his mouth. The Englishman went on to explain how attempting to always be politically correct can be draining on a fighter.
Cause at first you want everyone to like you, and you try to change them and you try to put out the correct responses, and you’re thinking about this and the marketing and the PR and all the rest of it. But then after a certain amount of time you’ve just got to think ‘awww (expletive) it, if that’s what they’re going to think, that’s what they’re going to think,’ and go with it. That’s certainly how it was for me.
Although Bisping has certainly embraced his role as a villain in MMA, he isn't putting on an act to get a reaction from fans.
I’m certainly not one of these fake (expletive). Trust me, there’s a lot of fake people out there that will be a nice guy to your face, on camera or whatever they’re super nice, but when there’s not a camera around, they’re absolutely (expletive). I’m not naming names, but I’m not one of those guys.
Jones believes himself to be a good individual, and I'm sure he does plenty of good in his life, but unfortunately for him, it's all the negatives that are pointed out the most by MMA fans and media. The champion will likely continue to clear his name of any bad connotation with fans, but it will take some time for fans to forgive and forget.
Can Jones maintain his crusade of good will, or will he join Bisping and just say whatever he wants to?
Guys like Tito Ortiz and Josh Koscheck have built their entire careers off being the bad guy. It's certainly worked out well for those two and Bisping, as they've all become synonymous with the UFC.
Jones may continue to try and secure a good reputation with the fans, but it will be interesting to see if the champ's tone changes following the negative reaction he receives from the fans in Toronto. Anyone who's seen a WWE event in Canada knows that Canadian fans have no qualms about booing whomever they want, and Jones is an easy target.
The champion may put up a valiant effort in attempting to be the good guy, but at what point does he finally give up and be the bad guy that seemingly everyone believes him to be?