The UFC currently lacks a major star in the mold of a Georges St-Pierre or a Brock Lesnar. Jon Jones is the one budding superstar the promotion does have, but he is on the verge of completely alienating not only MMA fans, but also the promotion itself.

The promotion and the UFC light heavyweight champ have been at odds for quite some time, and the relationship is seemingly getting more sour by the day. The promotion announced a fight that hadn’t been finalized (of course, that changed just last night). The announcement put the pressure entirely on Jones. Sound familiar? It’s because that’s exactly the way the UFC 151 debacle went down.

Recently, the UFC put even more pressure on Jones by announcing that the champion had no interest in fighting Alexander Gustafsson, but wanted to face Daniel Cormier. Whether or not Jones simply wanted to fight Cormier instead or if he was trying to work out a new contract, as previously believed, one thing is very clear: Jones has all the leverage.

Jones is the best fighter on the planet. He is entering the prime of his career and could very well go down as the greatest MMA fighter of all time before that career is over. He finds himself in a position enjoyed by only a select few: the UFC needs him more than he needs the UFC. If Jones was handed his walking papers today, the list to sign him would reach from Endicott, N.Y., to Albuquerque, N.M. The UFC, on the other hand, doesn’t have a fighter in the same caliber as Jones. Ronda Rousey is a major star, but she can’t headline every pay-per-view. Cain Velasquez, Chris Weidman and Anthony Pettis are all prone to injury. Johny Hendricks is recovering from surgery, Jose Aldo has recently complained about his fighter pay and new bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw only recently captured his title.

It’s odd that the UFC was so quick to point at Jones as the obstacle to a Gustafsson rematch, considering that the UFC is the one that put itself in this situation. After UFC 165’s close, epic clash between Jones and Gustafsson, it seemed only right that an immediate rematch would be booked. After all, just think of how many times former UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar faced B.J. Penn, Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson in a series of rematches. Instead, the UFC opted to allow Jones to fight Glover Teixera, a fight that was deemed “badass” by UFC President Dana White.

Now, the UFC and White are calling Gustafsson the No. 1 contender after Gustafsson defeated Jimi Manuwa. The fight with Manuwa did nothing to propel Gustafsson’s standing in the light heavyweight division, so it’s not entirely clear how Gustafsson ever fell out of the No. 1 contender slot, even with the UFC 165 loss.

However, Cormier is ranked No. 2, so it would not have been much of an outlandish decision to put Cormier in a title shot, except for the fact Gustafsson is ranked No. 1 and is the fighter fans want to see face Jones next. Isn’t that what the UFC claims to do—put on the fights fans want to see? In the end, it worked out and the Gustafsson rematch was booked, but the UFC went down a dangerous path before finalizing the match-up.

Instead of building up Jones as the next GSP, the promotion is too busy trying to bury him in an effort to get its way. It’s nothing new for the promotion; plenty of stars have had their issues with White and the UFC in the past. But many of them were either on the tail end of their career, or they were outside the company. None were in the prime of their career with the skills of Jones. It’s a mistake that may cost the UFC in the long run because, as we’ve seen, Jones has no issues with playing the game his way.

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.