Dana White and the UFC management have brought it out of the basement, and into the forefront of modern sports.
There have been many landmark events in the growing of the sport: The Ultimate Fighter, UFC 100, the Strikeforce acquisition, the UFC and Fox deal. The next big milestone that will take the sport to another level will be a fighter getting a major sponsor.
Nike is the most prestigious sports company in the world. They have the best marketing out of any sports brand, and are extremely selective when they choose someone to be the face of their brand.
Typically, Nike only signs one athlete per sport. In golf they only have Tiger Woods, boxing is Manny Pacquiao, NBA is LeBron James, etc.
They only want the best.
Eventually Nike and other top-level sports brands will break into MMA and find their spokesperson.
Jon Jones could very well be that guy.
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When Nike signs a spokesperson, they try and find someone who isn't overly arrogant. They want someone who is humble, and carries themselves as a professional.
Jon Jones is a true sportsman, and is always calculated. His post-fight interviews are never over-the-top, or full of self-promotion.
Jones lets his talent do the talking—Nike will love that.
Right now the UFC is still on an upswing. The sport is still growing at a rapid clip, and is only going to continue to get bigger.
The UFC just received a major TV deal with Fox, and they are about to take their brand to the next level. In a year or so the fan base for MMA will be much bigger. UFC fighters are starting to get bigger paydays as well.
If Nike were to sign Jon Jones now, they would pay half of what it would cost in a year or two from now.
Nike signs players in sports that are the best-of-the best.They want their spokespeople to be the number one athlete in their sport.
Jon Jones is the future of the UFC, and looks to be unstoppable. He hasn't really been hit, taken down, or in any kind of trouble at all.
He's the future of the sport, and is poised to be the champion for a while to come.
If Nike were to put their foot in the MMA door, they would want someone who can represent them for at least 10 years. Jones has the best shot of doing that.
All of the major sports leagues in the world are very saturated with big-name companies who have launched multimillion dollar ad campaigns to try and sell their products. Nike and many others have to throw tons of money to influence purchasers to buy their product lines.
The MMA market is relatively untapped. There are many brands selling products, but nobody with big money to throw into marketing.
If Nike were to get into the MMA market, they could very likely muscle all of the current brands out and gain the majority of the market share.
Jon Jones is the perfect spokesperson.
He's African-American so he appeals to minorities. He's a church-going man, so he brings a lighter side to cagefighting that casual fans will enjoy. He's a family man. Jon Jones appeals to everyone, and everybody likes him.
Aspiring fighters and fans alike will want to be like Jon Jones. He is by far the most exciting fighter in all of MMA.
Different types of people will all buy Nike MMA products just because Jon Jones uses them.