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Old 08-20-2012, 03:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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UFC 151 Fight Card: Why Is UFC Champion Jon Jones so Awful at Public Relations?

I was going to write a commentary on this. For those of you who know I think he's an exceptional athlete, but a very pompous one who lacks subtlety. Probably should hire a PR team. Read on...

The UFC badly wants light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to be the superstar the promotion desperately needs. Jones wants it too. He's spent years carefully building a persona—nice guy, holy guy, most importantly a regular guy. One who just happens to be the best fighter the sport of mixed martial arts has ever seen.

Since the departure of Chuck Liddell, an icon known as much for his trademark mohawk as his prodigious punching power, the sport has lacked a second marque fighter to compare with boxing's holy duality of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.

Welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre does his part in spectacular fashion. He's a solid box office draw in the United States, and his legion of Canadian fans make him a cash cow. But he's getting lonely at the top, and worse, has been AWOL all year, battling a knee injury and subsequent recovery.

Without St-Pierre and heavyweight Brock Lesnar, who left the sport to return to the WWE, the UFC has suffered with a series of uninspiring pay-per-view main events. They need Jones—need someone—worse than they've ever needed a star before.

Millions of dollars are on the line. For a promotion that is struggling towards its worst pay-per-view year in modern history, a situation made worse by new pressures to provide main event worthy fights for the Fox network four times a year, a lot is riding on making him not just an amazing fighter, but a popular one.

So why does Jon Jones keep messing things up, destroying good will as brilliantly as he's ever destroyed an opponent in the Octagon?

Jones tries hard. You have to give him that. He wants to be loved, more so than any UFC star I can recall. Even Tim Sylvia, who used to walk around the casino with his title belt hoping to be noticed, didn't yearn for approval quite like Jones. It's endearing in a way. But, almost without fail, when trying so hard to impress, he says the wrong thing.

Take his recent conversation with ESPN.com. Jones was trying to show reporter Franklin McNeil that he was a savvy player, that he understood the business implications of a potential fight with top contender Lyoto Machida:

"I don't want to fight Lyoto Machida. He was my lowest pay-per-view draw of last year. No one wants to see me fight Lyoto Machida. I don't want to fight Lyoto again. Lyoto is high risk and low reward.He's a tough fighter, but no one wants to buy that fight. Between (Mauricio) Shogun (Rua), (Quinton) Rampage (Jackson) and Rashad (Evans), Lyoto was my lowest draw. Why would I want to fight someone where it's a lose-lose situation? I won't make money on it. And he's a tricky fighter."

It's a stunning revelation. As a member of the media, it's intriguing, the kind of honesty you just don't get from athletes in other sports.

Jones is saying, without the slightest embarrassment or hesitation, that Machida is too tough a fight for him to consider for anything less than the gross national product of Moldova.

Athletics is about competition, about being the best. The money flows from that, from fans willing to put down huge chunks of their salaries for the privilege of watching top athletes compete to decide who's the biggest baller.

The Pittsburgh Steelers don't get to decide they'd rather play the New York Jets in the playoffs, records be damned, refusing to lace them up against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Every single columnist on Around the Horn would explode in righteous indignation.

Try explaining to a skeptical press that the New York market is bigger than North Florida's and that they'd make more money playing the Jets than the Jaguars. That's not the mental calculus we demand from our sports stars.

They play who they are told to play and the cream rises to the top. That's the goal of sports after all—putting it all on the line to see who comes out the champion.

For Jones to suggest otherwise, to say aloud that Machida is too tough a fight, shows a young champion in desperate need of a savvy adviser. He's secured the Nike endorsement, battled to the top of a tough sport and continues to grow as an athlete. Now he needs people around him crafting his public appearances instead of getting in fist fights backstage at the UFC.

How can Jon Jones Win over the Audience?
Keep winning fights?
He's too goody goody. No one loves someone so "perfect."
Ignore the haters Jones!
Embrace the hate and become the villain!
Losing a fight will humble him and make him relatable.
Submit Vote vote to see results
There is a way to avoid a Machida fight without telling the audience, an audience who wants badly to consider you a warrior by the way, that it makes you nervous. As an audience we are trained to read between the lines.

For example, if I told you a young starlet was hospitalized due to "exhaustion," you'd know that she was sniffing coke like it was still the 1980's. If I tell you an athlete was holding out because the team wasn't giving him enough "respect," you'd know he wanted a new contract. These are unspoken truths that we all understand.

Had Jones said "Machida isn't an interesting fight for me," we'd have known just what he meant. He didn't need to say the actual words. Never say the actual words!

In a sport built on machismo, it remains to be seen how well Jones's calculated capitalism, his borderline cowardice, will sit with the audience that likes its fighter fearless and as tough as they come.

Jones has worked his way to the top of a sport with a fandom dying to find someone to love. Unfortunately, he's doing everything in his power to make sure the next big star is someone, anyone, other than Jon Jones.

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His line about a "lose-lose situation" is a painfully obvious reference to Jones's recent statement about rematching Light Heavyweight karateka Lyoto Machida.

"Sure I could go up to 205 and I could take Jon Jones’ belt away, the same as I could take his candy on Halloween. He’s a little punk kid. I could snatch it away all I want, but there’s something to be said in sportsmanship for earning your shot, and on the 29th of December, I’m going to go through Forrest to do it."
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't know what the story is with him and Machida. Maybe because he's a young religious guy he feels like he's just going to be open and honest about everything.

I don't know why people are all up in a huff about him picking his opponents when he already beat Machida and none of these big stars would fight him until he had the belt.

Maybe that first Machida fight he feels like he got conned into it. Remember this was the time Rashad called him out for ducking him, he signs a contract and Evans pulled out with a thumb injury in a weeks time.

I don't like the idea of trying to cherry pick fighters for the champion to face because he might lose. If your a top fighter you win your way to the top and fight for the title. When you cherry pick title contenders you get Demian Maia and Dan Hardy fighting for championships in terrible fights.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What he needs to do is -

*Stop worrying about what people think

*Keep wrecking faces violently
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Because a good chunk of MMA fans don't actually care about fighting.

They worry me about the weight class or their personality. Jones is one of the most exciting fighters in the game yet he's one of the most hated guys out there as well.
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vilify View Post
What he needs to do is -

*Stop worrying about what people think

*Keep wrecking faces violently
This.

F*&% the haters; ignore the people who worry too much about "optics"; win-- do it big.

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Old 08-20-2012, 04:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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That article is laughable and shows what a slow news cycle can do. There is way too much being made about that comment and I guess it should show how much people want JBJ to fail rather than succeed. I'm not going to call people haters, merely they would rather they are the sort that will watch a PPV to see JBJ go down rather than dominate again.

Lyoto isn't "too tough a fight", it is that there is nothing left between him and Lyoto. It wasn't a back and forth war or anything that could potentially be disputed. When the fight was over we were left with pictures that look like they could have come from the end of an action movie. To top it all off, it made Jones the least amount of PPV cash compared to the other 'potential' rematches he would have.

People don't like JBJ, I think everyone gets that by now. The only thing left for him to do is try to cash in on that hate like Sonnen and start telling everyone that there is no point to these rematches because he would leave them all bloody messes on the cage floor again. He will probably see the most cash from going that route as more people will buy in hoping the next 'hero' can stop this evil 'villain'.
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I used to hate Jones but I've warmed up to him a lot ever since he stopped trying to pretend he's a good guy who eats his vitamins and says his prayers, and just decided to be the badass wrecking machine that he is. He's dropped a lot of his attitude since the Rampage fight and I've come to enjoy having him as a champion.

When it comes to the PR stuff I think a lot of it may have to do with his upbringing. He's young, a little immature for someone in his position, and he grew up in a sheltered environment. Put a kid with Jones' background into the spotlight and you're going to get some interesting results. Not everyone can be Sidney Crosby (even though I think he's a little twat).

I think Jones probably should hire some PR consultants at the least. He clearly doesn't have the social skills that he needs for the position he's in and it's almost painful to watch. He's horrible with verbal confrontation, awkward at press conferences, comes off horribly in interviews and puts his foot in his mouth regularly.
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I used to hate Jones but I've warmed up to him a lot ever since he stopped trying to pretend he's a good guy who eats his vitamins and says his prayers, and just decided to be the badass wrecking machine that he is. He's dropped a lot of his attitude since the Rampage fight and I've come to enjoy having him as a champion.

When it comes to the PR stuff I think a lot of it may have to do with his upbringing. He's young, a little immature for someone in his position, and he grew up in a sheltered environment. Put a kid with Jones' background into the spotlight and you're going to get some interesting results. Not everyone can be Sidney Crosby (even though I think he's a little twat).

I think Jones probably should hire some PR consultants at the least. He clearly doesn't have the social skills that he needs for the position he's in and it's almost painful to watch. He's horrible with verbal confrontation, awkward at press conferences, comes off horribly in interviews and puts his foot in his mouth regularly.
Think you hit it on the nail there. Just STFU and destroy people then he'll gain some serious following. Lyoto is still gonna win though even though I lost money on their first bout...haha!
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Skimmed through it, but meh. 80% of the people watching his fights won't have a clue to anything that is said. He is a big draw, but has his work cut out for him to be a mega draw like a GSP. I honestly know that he is a good guy with good intentions. He is just getting a lot of fame, all at one, and at such a young age.
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Lyoto is still gonna win though even though I lost money on their first bout...haha!
Talk about optimistic. Lyoto will probably look even worse after his second loss to JBJ.
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