UFC 152: Is Jon Jones the Most Hated Fighter in MMA?
When he was just a prospect making his way up the ranks, beating guys like Stephan Bonnar and Vladimir Matyushenko, he was a big fan favorite.
Then when he was awarded the title shot against Mauricio Rua, people started to turn against him a little bit.
It all started when Jones was handing out autographs, signing as "champion" when he had not yet won the belt. That didn't sit well with some people, but it wasn't a big deal at that point.
His next fight was against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and that was when we saw the trash-talking side of Jon Jones, which, again, some people didn't take kindly to.
In the fight against Rampage, Jones also did two things the fans didn't like, as he lifted Rampage up and dropped him on his face after the bell to end the round rang. Then, throughout the fight, he would throw side kicks to the knee of Rampage, which—while legal—the fans felt was a "dirty" move.
By now, Jones had quite a few haters who would knock him at every chance they could get. It only got worse when he fought Lyoto Machida.
Jones caught Machida in a standing guillotine choke and put him to sleep, at which point the referee said to break, and Jones dropped Machida to the ground in a heap of unconsciousness.
People did not like that, even though Jones didn't have much of an alternative to letting go when the referee said so.
After Jones fought Machida, he faced off with his former training partner and friend, Rashad Evans.
The Rashad Evans saga was the longest-running antagonism in the career of Jones.
After Jones won the title from Shogun Rua at UFC 128, he said in an interview that he would fight Rashad if Dana White wanted him to. Rashad did not take kindly to Jones' change of heart about a fight and would soon leave Jackson's MMA.
In the lead-up to their fight, there was a lot of trash-talk back and forth, and people began to see that Rashad may not actually be the bad guy, and that he may have been right about Jones all along, calling him "not genuine" and "fake."
Jones would defeat Rashad and set up a fight against Dan Henderson.
However, around a month after Jones beat Rashad, Jones crashed his Bentley into a telephone pole and totaled it. He was then arrested for DUI, and later pleaded guilty to DWI.
That just gave fans more ammunition with which they could hate on Jones.
But then, the biggest reason of all for fans to hate Jones was when he turned down a fight against Chael Sonnen.
He was going to fight Dan Henderson at UFC 151, but Henderson was forced out with an injury.
Mauricio Rua and Lyoto Machida were offered the chance to fight Jones, and they both declined. Then Chael Sonnen stepped up and said he would fight Jones.
Jones said no.
When that happened, UFC 151 had to be cancelled, as no one could be found to fill the main-event slot. UFC 151 became the first card to ever be cancelled after the main card had been announced.
When Jones made that decision, he became the most hated fighter in all of MMA, and possibly all of MMA history.
How Do You Feel About Jon Jones?
He refused to fight a smaller fighter who hadn't been training and is more one-dimensional than Dan Henderson, and in turn, caused the card to be cancelled.
A few days before all this happened, I had written an article about how the hate for Jones was unwarranted. Then when UFC 151 was cancelled, I got a fork and ate my words.
See what happens with Jones when he fights Vitor Belfort on Saturday at UFC 152.
Tim McTiernan is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. For the latest news on everything MMA, follow him on Twitter @TimMcTiernan.
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