Jon Jones doesn’t have a lot to complain about in his life at the moment. He’s the best light heavyweight in MMA history, has a number of top sponsorship deals, and likely will be considered one of the pound-for-pound greatest of all time when he hangs up the gloves. Yet, it appears as though Jones isn’t happy about one thing in his career. He feels left out by the UFC hype machine.

“We don’t always see eye to eye with the UFC, so I don’t know if they are always necessarily pushing me and whether that’s a smart idea on their end or not, who knows?” Jones said. “I do know that they are pushing Ronda Rousey really hard, and she’s gotten a lot of great opportunities. I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I’m pushing myself all the time so, I’m not really worried.”

And why would he worry? Jones is sponsored by Nike and Gatorade. He was sponsored by the UFC itself prior to his showdown with Rashad Evans at UFC 145. Jones also coached on a season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Chael Sonnen. He even got his own commercial.

Yet, for all of the success Jones has achieved, he should look no further than the closest mirror if he wishes to know why the UFC isn’t pushing him like the promotion is pushing Rousey.

For one, there’s Jones’ attitude. It tends to rub people the wrong way. Fans either consider him to be a fake individual or just a jerk in general. Jones is good at what he does, and he knows it. Although confidence is a good trait for a fighter to have, fans often view Jones’ self-assurance as cockiness, and his image has always suffered for it.

There’s also the DUI incident that involved two passengers, neither of whom were Jones’ fiancé. A DUI is something that happens almost every day in America. Compared to other crimes that fighters have committed, it would be a non-story if it were anyone but Jones. The anti-Jones crowd, however, took the headline and ran with it. Jones’ “holier than thou” image definitely took a hit from the DUI accident, but that’s been mostly forgotten at this point in his career.

What will likely never be forgotten is the UFC 151 fiasco. Fans will recall that Jones’ original opponent, Dan Henderson, was forced out of the fight with a knee injury. Henderson’s teammate, the aforementioned Sonnen, offered to step up with a week’s notice to face the champion. Current UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman also jumped at the chance to face Jones despite the late notice. Yet, Jones would have none of it.

Jones chose to turn down a replacement opponent and wait to fight at a later time. The result was the first cancellation of an event in UFC history. Immediately, Jones became the scapegoat. All of the animosity from both fans and fighters went straight to the champion. Jones certainly deserved some of the blame, but fault could’ve also been placed on the UFC for putting together such a weak card that one injury could derail an entire event. However, fans refused to budge on the idea that Jones, and Jones alone, was the culprit in UFC 151 being canceled.

Another matter that has contributed to Jones’ image issues is his opposition. Nearly all of Jones’ opponents were fan-favorites, and defeating them only fostered more fan dislike for the champion. Matt Hamill, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Alexander Gustafsson are (or were, in the case of Rampage) among the more popular fighters on the roster. Evans, Jones’ former teammate, suffered from a similar phenomenon after defeating Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell in devastating fashion.

There’s another, more straightforward reason why Jones isn’t receiving the push that Rousey enjoys. That reason? Well, Rousey is an attractive woman.

That may sound sexist, but everyone is aware of the old ad slogan that “sex sells.” Just look at the top searches on sites like Google and Yahoo! throughout the day, and odds are you’ll find an attractive female celebrity near the top. In a sport that’s overflowing with testosterone, there’s a gold mine to be had in featuring an attractive woman that can not only fight but look good doing it.

Jones has been given every chance to become the mega-star that Rousey has become, but he simply lacks the same crossover appeal. He has also squandered a lot of those chances through his own actions, like trying to “go get some fans” or saying he’s a company man that never tells the UFC no, only to tell them no.

Rousey’s “All-American girl” image took a hit from her appearance on The Ultimate Fighter, but instead of trying to prop herself up as the hero—something Jones has aimlessly attempted to do his whole career—Rousey has embraced the role of villain. Jones would be much better served to embrace the bad-guy image he’s garnered rather than continuing to fight a never-ending battle against the anti-Jones crowd. Imagine the type of heat and publicity Jones would generate for himself if he went full heel following a victory. Heck, he might even gain some fans for finally being “real” with them.

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.