Prior to Jon Jones’ UFC 145 title defense against Rashad Evans, a lot of attention was paid to the fact that Jones had become the first fighter to be officially sponsored by the UFC.

The MMA media hit the story from all angles, asking every sort of question imaginable.

Was it fair to the rest of the roster that Jones was getting extra cash put in his pocket by the promotion? Should the UFC take a risk by throwing its brand on a fighter that hasn’t even hit past the midpoint of his twenties?

In the end all of these questions didn’t mean anything, as the organization had no desire to recant their endorsement of “Bones,” and the event went off without a mention of the deal by the time Jones had defeated Evans on the judges’ scorecards. It appeared the controversy of the UFC sponsoring Jones had reached its end, especially after the light heavyweight champion signed a huge deal with Nike earlier this summer.

Then UFC 151 happened.

Following Jones’ decision to decline a fight against Chael Sonnen and either knowingly or unknowingly let UFC 151 crash and burn, the drama behind the UFC and its endorsement of Jones has found new life.

During the conference call in which UFC President Dana White announced to the media that Dan Henderson had been injured and the promotion was unable to find an opponent that Jones was willing to fight on short notice, White went after Jones harder than he’s gone after a high-profile fighter in a long time. White even claimed he was never 100 percent behind the idea of sponsoring Jones.

At this time, it remains unknown as to whether or not Jones will hang onto his Zuffa endorsement, but it’s impossible to deny that the UFC made a huge mistake by making Jones the face of its brand when it first sponsored him. The UFC roster is full of company guys that have come through in the clutch for the promotion time after time, and it may have been a better idea to throw the UFC logo on a fighter that had proven his loyalty a half dozen times.

Of course, Jones had done nothing to rub Zuffa the wrong way up until this point. As this was prior to his DUI arrest, the risk-to-reward ratio with Jones was firmly in the UFC’s favor. However, following what can only be described as a fiasco surrounding UFC 151, it seems like the UFC could not have found a worse fit to represent its brand.

Now, the president of the company has bashed the fighter that the organization chose to represent it, and with Jones currently giving White somewhat of a cold shoulder as well, the situation has become a disaster.

The UFC shouldn’t be afraid to offer fighters it believes represent the sport and the company well a few extra bucks to throw a UFC logo on their gear, but the deal with Jones has backfired and the UFC needs to be far more careful in choosing the fighters it wants to symbolize its brand.

There were plenty of high-profile fighters the UFC could have chosen to be the face of the company, and unfortunately for Dana White and the rest of Zuffa, they chose wrong.

Photo: Jon Jones (L) (James Law/Heavy MMA)

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.