In one of the lead commercial promos for UFC 214, UFC analyst Joe Rogan tells Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier that great fighters need great fighters. While that is certainly need true, the UFC also needs great fighters with plenty of star power. When searching for a star in the UFC, one need look no further than Jon “Bones” Jones. While Conor McGregor is off preparing for a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Ronda Rousey is all but retired, Jones carries the torch for the UFC.
Even after two suspensions, several run-ins with the law, and being stripped of his title twice, Jones still gets some of the loudest fan applause. His fans seemingly have not abandoned him despite his troubles. As he prepares to try to win back the light heavyweight title that he never lost inside the Octagon, Jones faces a bitter rival in Cormier.
The fans don’t seemingly care about Cormier and his good-guy ways. Rather, it’s the bad-boy style of Jones that has only helped his star power stay strong leading up to UFC 214. Maybe it’s the story of redemption that we love so much in sports that gets Jones his love affair with fans. He had it all at such a young age. Jones was thrown into the limelight and marketed all over the world as one of the greatest fighters of all time, but when the going got good in his career, the parties and trouble soon followed in his personal life.
Even after Jones was removed from UFC 200 and UFC President Dana White said Jones would never headline another pay-per-view, here we are at UFC 214. Jones is the headliner of the biggest card of 2017 and quite possibly the most stacked card since UFC 205, which was headlined by the aforementioned McGregor. While there are currently plenty of good champions in the UFC, some new and some old, only Jones can compete with the star power of Rousey and McGregor.
The hate between Jones and Cormier is an easy sell, but maybe the UFC stacked this card as insurance in case one of the two fighters pulled out. Nonetheless, the UFC knew Jones would be back in a main event when he returned from his suspension. Already having defeated at least six future Hall-of-Famers, Jones has repeatedly said that his reign doesn’t start or end with a second win over Cormier.
No discredit to Cormier, but during fight week, Jones was asked about a possible future match-up with former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. Jones responded with plenty of willingness to fight Lesnar. Once this became news, Lesnar also agreed he’d be down to fight Jones. Right away, the possibility of a mega-fight was thrown into the minds of fight fans all over the world, and yet Jones still hasn’t even fought Cormier for the title. That’s star power.
White recently said that the one blemish on Jones’ record was due to a referee who shouldn’t have been in the Octagon and that Jones is truly undefeated inside the cage. He’s right. Jones is quite possibly the greatest to ever put on gloves, even though he has missed two years of his prime due to his own wrongdoing. The spotlight still shines brighter for him than most.
The UFC needs Jones, because, quite frankly, his resume speaks for itself. Jones has a possible story of redemption that sports fans love, and he just so happens to be pretty good at marketing himself. Make no mistake about it, the story of his comeback is an easy one to sell, as is the rivalry with Cormier, but Jones received the Rousey UFC 207 promo treatment where he got all the love and his opponent was barely even given air time. Jones is who and what the people want to see.
Jones doesn’t receive redemption by defeating Cormier. Instead, he gets star power back by doing so. Redemption comes with more title defenses, big super fights with those in the heavyweight division (like Lesnar), and what he does after yet another chance to make things right. It all starts at UFC 214.
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