Francis Ngannou recently cemented his place as the most feared man in the sport. When he connects with a clean shot, he wins by KO every time. While this is all very exciting, the fight many want to see is Francis vs Jon Jones.
The odd thing here is that Francis Ngannou is not a champion and Jon Jones is. Usually, when two fighters in different weight classes clash, they are both champions. While Jon Jones is a great talent, he is also the fighter most victimized by bias. His poor character choices are accompanied by a sometimes-sinister lack of contrition. Because of this, fans clamor for Jon to fight anyone with a real chance to defeat him.
Jon Jones’ History of Teasing
Fans are hypnotized by their hatred for Jon Jones the man. While Ngannou is exciting, he has less drawing power than Jones, so this fight is not guaranteed to sell a huge number of Pay Per Views. There is no title on the line, and Jon has very little to gain from this bout. The biggest attraction here is potentially seeing Jon Jones embarrassed publicly in a way that he can’t just brush off.
Jones claims to want to fight Ngannou for the right price. He convinced everyone that it’s about money this time around. But, dating back to 2013, there always seems to be a new and convenient reason why he cannot or will not compete at Heavyweight.
Live Reaction to Negotiations
Jon sort of live-tweeted as he made negotiations with the UFC and framed the outcome in a way that made the UFC seem like the villains. While fighters are certainly underpaid, Jon Jones does not deserve extra money to fight Ngannou. If the argument is that Jones deserves more money simply because he is fighting Francis Ngannou, there are not a lot of ways to justify it.
Leagues Pay Star Athletes for Heroics
Most people start their careers underpaid: athletes, blue-collar and white-collar workers, everyone. Fighters and athletes earn big paydays by doing something heroic in the prime of their careers.
George St. Pierre is the only exception to this rule. He played it safe and became the UFC’s top Pay Per View Star. Thing is, GSP was handsome, had highlight-reel explosiveness, an ethnically unique identity, and a professionalism that had not been seen before in the sport. He also had a great temperament and set a perfect example for children.
Jon Jones has none of those things, so it’s in his best interest to really challenge himself and get people excited about his fights. At the end of the day, lots of people have to be willing to pay lots of money to see a fighter compete for the promotion to offer them more money. There has to be something on the line. Eventually, the belt becomes a tired excuse for a prize. Fighters like BJ Penn, Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor and Anderson Silva did not get their biggest paydays early. It took time. It also took excellent, and sometimes iconic wins to earn those big contracts and endorsements. BJ Penn fought a much bigger Matt Hughes back when Hughes was finishing everyone in the 170lb division. BJ took his title, then kissed him in the mouth and went on to make a career at 155lbs.
Ronda Rousey was submitting women within five minutes one after the other with the same move. She also cut great promos and had scathing press conference exchanges. Anderson Silva was overlooked until front-kicking Vitor at 185lb and embarrassing Forrest Griffin at 205lb when many doubted him. Conor curled Jose Aldo’s toes who was #1 pound for pound at the time. He then picked Eddie Alvarez apart like he was an amateur. While Jon was very entertaining in the past, he was never a big draw. He tried the GSP route and got exposed, and now continues to fail to capitalize on his infamy.
Jones’ Route to Real Money
If Jones wants a big payday, he will have to do something worth remembering. His quickest route is going to Heavyweight and beating a guy or two in devastating fashion. This is a very important lesson in life for anyone trying to increase their income; no one is going to pay you to figure out how great you are. You show the value you offer and then you demand what you know you are worth. The fight game is no different.
Athletes Must Have Self Awareness
Right now, Jon Jones is going about this all wrong. If ever there was a guaranteed PPV draw, Jon Jones is not it. It is unclear what type of numbers Jones was really asking for to fight Ngannou. However, given that Jones has a champion’s contract, it’s hard to make a case that he is entitled to more money to fight a contender regardless of the division.
He is not on an exciting win streak; he is not coming off of an exciting finish. Jones is coming off of back to back controversial title defenses against two contenders with shallow legacies. His dramatic rivalry with Daniel Cormier failed to clear a million buys both times after two years of build-up. At the end of the day, neither Jones or Ngannou are stars, and if anyone thinks this fight is guaranteed to do crazy numbers, they are fooling themselves. It would be exciting though, for sure.
Jon Jones quotes scripture non-stop. In the Bible, Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find”. This does not mean you get whatever you want just because you ask for it. The last thing Jon needs is for the UFC to enable the entitlement that he continues to show day after day. Between the criminal record and the poor PPV numbers, Jon makes a very poor case. It’s hard to convince leagues and clubs to give any athlete big money after they have proven over and over to be untrustworthy.
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