Will someone get this guy a publicist already?
While UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and his camp may be among the very best in the world when when it comes to the managing the fight game, they are sorely lacking when it comes to managing their own public image which continues to tank like an M1A2 Abrams.
To wit, Jones backed out of a fight he was supposed to be headlining tonight nine-days ago when opponent Dan Henderson revealed that he needed to step down due to injury. Henderson's replacement, middleweight Chael Sonnen was deemed too threatening to face on just 9-day's notice so the champ refused the fight, starting a chain of events which eventually led to the cancellation of the entire fight card.
Then, for Jones, things got worse.
Dana White and the UFC went out of their way to criticize the champ and his camp at every turn, going as far as saying that Jones and his head trainer Greg Jackson, "murdered" the UFC 151 fight card. Countless fellow UFC fighters have piled on as well, publicly blasting Jones for not stepping up for the organization the way fighters are expected to.
Jones and his camp responded by issuing an apology and probably should have just left it at that, and taken their medicine with the public ribbing, but after being blasted continually by fans, the media and other fighters, Jones' camp, in a misguided attempt to steer the blame away from Jones, inadvertently added fuel to the fire when they stated, without offering any evidence whatsoever, that Sonnen knew Henderson was hurt long before Henderson announced it publicly and that the two had somehow colluded to give Sonnen an opportunity to train for Jones longer than Jones would have to prepare for him.
The assertion seemed to escalate Sonnen's already masterful verbal assaults against Jones, so much so, that the champ contacted UFC president Dana White to ask Sonnen to stop verbally attacking him. Not quite your idea of a dominant MMA world beater is it?
Now comes this interesting tidbit via ESPN's MMA Live:
"A source from very close to him said Jon Jones was willing to pay the fighters. He felt so bad about the card being cancelled, he was willing to pay the fighters on that card their fees. But after all these attacks on him by other fighters, he chose not to do that. He feels really bad about this situation and did not expect the entire card to be cancelled."
It's easy to say you're going to do something after the fact. If Jones' was indeed planning on paying the fighters who lost money on the cancelled UFC 151 card, he should have announced it straight away. It surely would have gone a long way toward repairing his image, and his critics, who have had plenty of ammunition over the past week and a half, would be shooting blanks. As it stands, this admission coming on the night of what was supposed to be a great event for MMA fans, just seems like another bad attempt at repairing Jones' ever waning public persona.