With one quick stroke of a pen, Jon Jones and Nike have put the pieces in place to create the first global star in mixed martial arts.

Last week, Jones became the first MMA fighter to sign a global deal with the Oregon-based apparel company, and with his new deal comes the weight of the entire MMA world.

This deal with Nike has a chance to eventually make Jones one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet, and with MMA’s already less than stellar reputation, Jones will need to be a picture-perfect citizen.

One slip-up from the current UFC light heavyweight champion could set MMA back another decade in the eyes of the general public, and based on Jones’ current track record, one has to wonder if Nike made the right choice when they chose “Bones” to become the face of MMA.

Jones was charged with a DWI on May 19 of this year, just a few weeks following his title defense over Rashad Evans in April. The win over Evans was by far the biggest of his career, but great highs seem to be followed by terrible lows, and Jones hit the roughest part of his MMA career after his arrest in May.

As if a high-profile arrest wasn’t harmful enough to Jones’ public image, he made a statement released soon after his arrest where he claimed that it had been “sickening to have so many try and kick me while I’m down.” While there’s no doubt that what Jones said was true, it probably wasn’t the best public relations move to complain about criticism roughly 48 hours after being charged with a DWI.

Jones has made a mistake or two since he became champion, but it’s not hard to see why Nike would want him to represent the MMA portion of its brand. Other than his slip-up in May, Jones has been the closest thing to a marketing dream, as he’s well-spoken, deeply believes in his faith, and seems like a grounded individual.

And no one will deny that Jones is the smartest bet from a talent perspective. The 25 year-old phenom has dominated every single opponent put in front of him over the course of his UFC career, and since he earned his UFC title fight against “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128, Jones has gone 4-0 against former world champions.

If Jones is able to get past Dan Henderson next month at UFC 151, he will have taken out nearly every notable fighter in the 205-pound division, and at that point his legend will already have reached incomparable heights for such a young fighter.

It’s going to take time for the public to completely forgive Jones for his actions from a few months ago, but Nike has decided to stick by the fighter and obviously doesn’t think that Jones will cause the company any unwanted media disasters in the future.

Everyone makes mistakes, and unless Jones is a completely different person than he appears to be, it’s doubtful that he will find himself in trouble anytime soon. In short, Nike couldn’t have picked a better fighter to represent its brand.

Jones has the talent to be the present and future of MMA, and Nike was smart enough to realize that when you have the chance to sign a talent like Jones, you don’t sit back and wait for your competitors to enter the race.

You just do it.

Photo: Jon Jones (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.