Shameful potential homophobia notwithstanding—the plausible deniability of which was the only thing to save him from a full-blown PR poopstorm—when he decides he's going to engage people, he gets plenty of attention for it.
He's not smooth or suave, but he sure is grating. People hate the way he carries himself, to the point that he'd probably be booed for throwing money into the stands if he talked about it while he did it.
It's that unique gift for burrowing deep under people's skin that needs to be exploited a little more, though. A big gold belt for battering bad men like they're petulant children is pretty cool, but measuring your pay by the dump truckload is even cooler.
If and when Jones beats Glover Teixeira on Saturday night at UFC 172, he can use one to make the other a reality.
My mother: "Glover will fight Jon Jones? Poor Glover, will eat so many elbows."— Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) April 16, 2014
People are dying to see the champion get his comeuppance, and another win over a top contender will only increase that feeling. With guys such as Alex Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier waiting in the wings, they'll probably be explaining how those guys could beat Jones before Teixeira even wakes up in the cage himself.
So Jones, belt firmly planted around his waist and basking in the accolades Joe Rogan seems to save up just for him on a quarterly basis, grabs the mic and says, "No one at 205 can beat me. Gustafsson and Cormier are embarrassing. With Anderson gone and Georges gone, I'm the best in the world. Give me both right now, I don't care."
Rogan giddily ends the interview. The champ walks out of the cage, and Baltimore itself quakes from the boos emanating from the Baltimore Arena. The dump trucks fire up their engines and get ready for their trek to the Jones estate, where they'll drop fat stacks on his lawn sometime in the fall after he fights to back up those words.
You see, that's the way it goes in combat sports. Good athletes can make money. Good trash-talkers can make money. Someone who does both can make all of the money.
Jones is both, but intermittently and never together. His trash talk is unorthodox. It's not clever or scathing. It's the type of silliness you'd expect your little brother to throw at you after you took a bite of his sandwich or slapped him in the back of the head.
Only that little brother is the nastiest mixed martial artist in the world. His words are irrelevant because he can smash your face in with his elbows. Jones basically makes the world live with that reality and plays the little-brother-turned-professional-demolition-man role for anyone who'll listen. It drives people crazy.
On Saturday night, he should just embrace it. Be the good athlete and the good, if unusual, trash-talker at the same time. Make people care not about what he just did to Glover Teixeira but about what he might do to—or what might be done to him by—the next man in line for a crack at his title.
If everyone's going to hate the guy, he might as well get paid for it.