Has Jon Jones been forgiven by the MMA world, or will the UFC's "real fans" refuse to give him more PPV money?
"There's no way I'm paying 45 bucks to watch that idiot."
After all, "Bones" ruined a weekend in Las Vegas for lots of people, turning down a fight with Chael Sonnen after Dan Henderson got injured. As a result, those fans were left with non-refundable plane tickets and hotel rooms for an event that wasn't happening.
If you're like me and happen to work on the weekends, you probably made plans and shifted commitments in advance, only to find yourself without a UFC event to watch on September 1st.
It makes one wonder—when UFC 152 is in the books, will we find that Jones' star is still on the rise, or have hardcore fans been pushed to the point where they won't pay to watch him fight?
That's been an interesting question since the fallout of UFC 151, where Jones drew the ire of everyone in the "MMA bubble" of the Internet. However, that bubble doesn't represent the entire audience of the sport, as seen by public reaction to Jones during open workouts and open Q&A sessions.
As most MMA media has reported, all seems forgiven—to a point.
Yes, some fans are booing Jones in Canada, but the majority are still cheering, perhaps glad that their main event doesn't rest of the backs of two tiny flyweights.
So far, it seems like MMA fans who hate Jon Jones for any multitude of reasons (hypocritical public statements, general cockiness, that horrible "homeless man's" beard) will still put down money for his fights. Just a glance at the reported estimates leaves no doubt.
Are you going to pay to watch UFC 152?
Ever since winning the UFC light heavyweight title, the young champion has been a bright spot in the promotion's disappointing pay-per-view numbers with an average of 548,750 buys per event. Considering that he's had four title fights since March 2011, Jones' impressive work rate alone makes him incredibly valuable.
But if hardcore fans want to "stick it" to the champion by boycotting UFC 152, catching it somewhere for free, or watching it through illegal Internet streams, "Bones" won't look so good when the estimates come in, win or lose.
Every numbered UFC event has those die-hard fans that'll buy every card they can afford. Those are the fans talking about Jones on forum boards, the ones betting on fantasy MMA games, the one who drive up website traffic, and the ones who form the baseline for many pay-per-view buys.
But will those people—the "real" fans, according to Dana White—support Jon Jones?
Maybe we'll get that piece of the puzzle after the fact.
Jones' lowest draw as a headliner is 485,000 buys from UFC 140, where he fought Lyoto Machida on top of a decent fight card. If he draws even less on his second tour in Canada, the UFC could be facing a whole new problem that almost no amount of marketing can fix.