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Five questions after Jon Jones cements GSP-esque status in the UFC world

By Zach Arnold | January 5, 2015

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Jon Jones beating Daniel Cormier wasn’t that large of a shock on Saturday night in Las Vegas. It may have been a surprise that he manages to humble Cormier in the wrestling department but Jon Jones has always had the physical tools to be as explosive of an athlete as any modern day MMA fighter we’ve seen.

I think his future in the UFC is incredibly fascinating. I came away from his fight on Saturday with as many questions as I did answers.

1. Is he going to fight Alexander Gustafsson in a re-match?

Jon Jones the competitor would love to prove that the first fight shouldn’t have been as close as it was. Jon Jones the business probably doesn’t see a giant upside in giving Gustafsson a second chance to derail his momentum into GSP-esque territory for winning.

I want to see the rematch. And I thought Gustafsson had a legitimate case to make for winning their first fight. He’s the one guy who appears to have some kryptonite in facing Jones in the LHW division.

2. Is Cain Velasquez the one remaining roadblock in Jon Jones’ UFC career as a fighter?

I don’t know if we’ll even see Jones fight Cain, as much as the Internet exploded in interest on Saturday night over the prospects of such a fight.

It may be a natural progression in matchmaking but Velasquez is a big, big man with a lot of power and no matter how much physical ability Jones has at LHW, he hasn’t faced anyone yet who is close to Velasquez in terms of raw power and MMA-style wrestling.

3. Has Jon Jones shattered his artificial glass ceiling in terms of fan interest?

The early returns from his fight with Daniel Cormier seem to indicate he’s managed to break through his own flaws in marketing and public relations. Love him or hate him, Jon Jones is a guy who is finally getting the recognition as the top tier athlete that he’s long deserved. The question is whether or not fan interest in Jones long-term is sustainable like it was for Georges St. Pierre. GSP attracted certain demos that Jones simply doesn’t appeal to, but there’s no question that a Jon Jones fight now is viewed by the masses as “an event.”

4. What would the value of Jon Jones be on the open market as a fighter?

We’ll never know this question. He’s going to remain under contract with the UFC probably for the rest of his career. If there was serious free agency in MMA, how much would he be making for a fight with someone like Cain Velasquez and HBO acting as the quasi-promoter?

5. What exactly is the fan interest & market value of promoting a fight between Jon Jones & Cain Velasquez?

I know we’re forgetting about that guy named Fabricio Werdum. It seems clear, however, that the interest level in seeing a JJ/Cain super-fight is growing and would prove to be far more interesting on a technical & athletic level than a super-fight between Anderson Silva & GSP. The door may not be officially closed on the two old war horses fighting each other but the appeal of such a super fight has lost some of its luster like Pacquiao/Mayweather has. Sure, it’ll do nice business, but the peak in fan interest has faded.

Jon Jones vs. Cain Velasquez as a major super fight looks & sounds fresh. The fans want to see it. It would be kind of an awkward fight in terms of promotion given how quiet & reserved Cain is while Jon Jones remains a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma in handling public relations.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 34 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

34 Responses to “Five questions after Jon Jones cements GSP-esque status in the UFC world”

  1. Diaz' spacked bowl says:

    1 Yes. This should be the rivalry ufc pushes in ‘15.

    2 No. Cain will get beat by Werd, and most likely will be on the shelf due to not tapping to Werds armbar. Werd vs Jones is much more interesting, since Jones vs Cain is like Cain vs Kongo 5 round stifle fest. But Jones wins by being a better wrestler and submission artist than Kongo while lacking his KO power.

    3 mmm..maybe with that “suck it” gesture.
    5 Rather see Jones vs Gus and Jones vs Werd, not to mention Cain is backlogged pretty heavy in his division, and Cain is small and could fight at lhw if he lost 20lbs of flab like dc did.

    Lombard vs Rory title eliminator. Lombard would just wreck that guy, what was his name? Hendricks? or lawler, and I think ufc is keeping him down. All 5 fights were decisions yet Lombard was the only one dana blasted for being unable to finish, while neither dc or jones tried to finish for 5 whole rounds(boring battle of egos).
    Cowboy vs Jury- 3 catches in round one! Cowboy’s a fighter trying to finish.

  2. Mark says:

    1) Yes.

    2) I wouldn’t call him a roadblock anymore than Anderson Silva and GSP were roadblocks for each other when people thought that fight was going to happen. It’s the best money fight for either guy, but if it doesn’t happen it’s not like either of their legacies would be harmed.

    3) No. Jones showed he could get interest with one guy who’s a great foil.

    4) He has value in that if he left UFC they’d be hurt by not having the top fighter. But it’s not like he could do a Bellator PPV and draw 650,000 buys against King Mo. Cain/Jones on HBO wouldn’t work because they’re now out of the UFC context. The fight would be sold on Velasquez pissed off that his friend got humiliated. But they couldn’t air footage of Cain looking sad in the crowd, or DC interviews. Now it’s just a fight.

    5) It doesn’t matter, but it’s their best draw for 2016. Jones still has to beat Gustafsson and Velasquez still has to beat Werdum, and who knows when Cain is going to get hurt again. But it would draw. I won’t go as far as Meltzer to say it would sell out AT&T Stadium in Dallas I’m assuming he thinks the Mexicans are going to sell it out for Cain, but they aren’t backing him like they back boxers.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    The GSP/Silva comparison isn’t a good one for Jones/Cain.

    GSP was not a big Welterweight and Silva was a big Middleweight.

    Cain is a smaller Heavyweight and Jones is a very big LHW.

    That fight has to happen if they continue to win. And I never thought GSP/Silva should have happened.

  4. Diaz' spacked bowl says:

    Cain is keeping quiet on the Jones front, but Werdum has no fear…
    “If you(Jones) want to fight me every day, come to Kings MMA. We’ll spar every day, all day, with no time limit for a week, a month, until one quits. If you want to fight me every day, that’s how it’s going to work,” Werdum said. “When we have a visitor that talks too much trash, we do sparring sessions with no time limit, until someone quits. Old-school MMA.”

    “But if you want to fight me, we can talk to the UFC and do this superfight,” he continued. “Heavyweight, catchweight, anything.”

    Werdum wins a 5 rd fight imo. Superior ground game tailor made for a long fighter like Jones. Superior to Belfort who just about tapped Jones out. Jones has weak punches therefor Werdum can stand and bang without fear of the KO. Jones raising an arm to elbow? what about the other arm?
    My gameplan to beat Jones would be to rush in grab one of his skinny legs and bust it ala Paul Harris. Im surprised no one has tried this. And since his lower extremities tend to break during fights anyway, imagine what a concerted effort to heel hook or Achilles crush his leg would accomplish.

  5. ttt says:

    Question #6

    With Jon Jones already being such a flawed character, does getting caught on blow potentially make a good redemption story or make it even easier for him to play heel?

    • Mark says:

      Redemption. Since he’s up there with Ronda on sponsorships, they’ll have to do a big spin doctor job about what a great guy he is, how he just made a mistake while caught up in the party scene, and now he’s back to being a model citizen.

  6. Jonathan says:

    I don’t know. He gets hit in the head by other guys and hits other guys in their heads for a living. That’s the sort of lifestyle I’d expect to follow if they did cocaine.

  7. Diaz' spacked bowl says:

    The ufc and their money grubbing inhuman ways!

    Someone smoked some pot(which by the way is a beneficial herb) a month or two before a fight and he gets his win taken away his bonus money taken and is suspended.

    Someone “drink drives” brawls out of comp and does cocaine? They fight with no problem no fine just an apology and that puts them back into the ufcs good graces? Want a million dollar sponsorship deal? no problem, drink beat up on people do blow, its the lifestyle!

    ufc like the usa is sick and corrupted by the $$$$$. Stann
    comparing him to the mass murdering drug smuggling cover uper Clinton, shows how messed up peoples values are to make such a comparison.

    • duck says:

      Jones took Cocaine in December 4th, the post fight tests haven\’t been released yet, Diaz has failed two of these, that’s why he got suspended, if Jones has Coke in his system during the fight then fair enough ban him.

      Nick Diaz had 2 DUI’s just last year and was involved in an assault on National TV and worst of all was involved in a fight at a hospital, were, the doctors and nurses shouldn’t have to worry about separating two idiots fighting.

      • Diaz' spacked bowl says:

        My name is Diaz’s packed bowl, however I wasn’t talking about Diaz was I?

        That “someone” would be “Pat Healy”.
        Next time try doing some research before blindly reacting and making a fool of yourself.

  8. Phil says:

    What a load of f#cking hypocrisy! Guys get nailed and suspended for pot metabolites – and jones waltzes off to rehab with no repercussions after getting caught using cocaine! This is why the UFC will always be viewed as a fringe league. Someone once said boxing was the redlight district of sports – but I think MMA is quickly taking up that mantle.

    • Diaz' spacked bowl says:

      UFC(super desperate for a big money fight) used their “clout” to keep that test secret so the big show could go on. They could have kept it secret too! Jones had no obligation to admit it and the ufc did a great job hiding it, while now playing up Jones “honesty”

      Well I’m done with ufc for good, I hope they get sued out of business.
      I used to pick up the occasional “stacked” dvd, but no more. I’m selling my entire ufc dvd collection(now before they get even less popular)I will also be making the rounds to any associates that still actually pay for PPV and shame them into giving up that bad behavior enabling habit.

      I will only be watching a few select UFC fights after the fact, as long as they are NOT Jones v Cormier snore fests and they involve true fighters with a ground game I like who are not on drugs. Like Werd, Hunt, Pickett, Showtime, Diaz, GSP.

      I can get behind OneFC because they are not a scummy corrupt beholden only to the$$$$ org like UFC. And the fighters are NOT point fighters, they have ground games and try to finish.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I got rid of my DVD collection….Over 100 in all… Over a year ago. Thought I might regret it in the future. That never happened. All I have left is the Ultimate 100 collection (for a few select fights), Best of 2010 for a Lesnar fight and Best of 2013 to watch Weidman KO Silva over and over and over again.

        The Jones/Cormier PPV is the first one I bought since Weidman/Machida. And I on;y went to the theater for one show in between those two.

        The more that comes about about this story, the more disgusting it is. This is blatantly lying to the public in order to sell a fight. This might be some of the worst Zuffa has ever done.

        • Diaz' spacked bowl says:

          UFC is like school on holiday, no class!
          can’t be associated with that action.

      • Mark says:

        You don’t think UFC would fudge test results with Nick Diaz if they could? He’s a star. He did 1 million buys with GSP, which is bigger than anything Jones has done, unless the Cormier fight hits a million. He also did 400,000 against Condit, which is good for today’s numbers.

        I’m a Nick Diaz fan, but he is his own worst enemy. There’s no UFC conspiracy to hold him down and elevate Jon Jones. Dana would love it if Nick could pass piss tests and show up for press. He’s a great fighter with a weird charisma that draws people into caring about his fights. Dana would love to have him at the top of the company.

  9. 45 Huddle says:

    Another black eye on the sport. Jones should not have been allowed to fight. The UFC picks and chooses who they penalize.

    Let the organization burn to the ground. They have mucked everything up anyways….

  10. 45 Huddle says:

    Somebody posted this timeline on twitter…

    “This timeline stinks to high hell:

    12/4: JBJ OOC test
    1/1: UFC says done with OOC testing
    1/3: UFC 182
    1/6: Failed JBJ OOC test results”

  11. Muscle Hamster says:

    The 3 tests JBJ took were all tested for street drugs. I doubt it was accidental as claimed. Testing the top P4P fighter in the world is significant enough that something so silly would not have slipped. I wonder why that was done, whether it was legal to release those results, and if Jones has any recourse. Just a few questions unrelated to whether he should be using in the first place.

    And though the cocaine revelation looks bad, even more damaging could be the PED issue, as it appears he has unreasonably low yet wildly fluctuating T/E and high levels of T/E raising the possibility of exogenous use.

  12. duck says:

    The Jones in rehab is a publicity stunt, actors and athletes do it all the time, he probably took a bump in a club or house party and then was unlucky to get caught, when he shouldn’t have even been tested for recreational drugs.

    He will most likely pass the post fight test, meaning he’s not some addict but someone who trakes a line from time to time.

  13. rst says:

    2. If Jon grows into heavy weight in a healthy and natural way like he says is his intention I think he’ll do well.
    If he fought Cain right now Cain would just lean on him. I think he mentioned that as a concern regarding HW in general himself.
    And I dont want to see him push it and bulk up before he’s ready and lose his speed.
    Right now he moves better then the HW’s. If he can keep that and also gain the weight and muscle to not get bullied I think he’ll dominate.

    3. The people who dont like Jon aren’t being honest about their dislike for him. They never have a good explenation other then “he’s fake”.
    Which is purposely vague so that they dont have to explain it. But if you ask them to they’ll point to Jon saying sometyhing honestly that they didn’t like.,
    But thats the opposite of being fake. There’s some other reason they dont like Jon, I have my suspicions what it probably is.
    And it also seems pretty obvious that the mma blogger/media plays up the “hate Jon” agenda themselves in the tone of their coverage.
    Every article they write about him has to dedicate a paragraph to how mma “fans” hate Jones.
    Its a sinister agenda like when they invented the white Hispanic.

    I would actually like to watch Jones/Verdum more then Cain.
    Cain is the champ for good reason, but he’s a grinder.
    Jones and Verdum would give each other enough room to both pull out the best from their arsenal of strikes.
    Maybe instead of a cross weight class superfight, expecting a guy who body is streamlined for 205 to fight a guy streamlined for 250+,
    let Jones move into HW naturally and fight an HW or two including Verdum after Cain beats him befor he fights Cain.

    They can build that up for 2 years,
    “Jon’s coming for ya Cain”.

    • rst says:

      Oh did Jon get popped for coke?
      I haven’t been reading the news.

      That was kinda fake of him.

      • rst says:

        Okay, so this was a month before the fight?
        He didn’t pop for coke is his system during the fight?

        Iole points out that thats the difference between the Diaz situation and the Jon situation.
        Coke isn’t better then weed, but weed stays in your system for a month.

        As long as he wasn’t on coke in the ring I think the fight was fair. Although that is a shame that Jon got into that at some point.

        But like the drunk driving thing, Jons a young guy.
        A young guy on top of the world. And young people make mistakes.
        I’ve made much worse mistakes then that (never wrecked my car though),
        and never achieved anything near undisputed LHW champ in between them.

        As far as the fakeness of it, what you want to be isn’t always what you are. Thats not really fake, thats having expectations for yourself.
        Expectations that you cant always live up to.

        • Mark says:

          He’s 27. Most people stop being frat boys when they get a career. Especially one as lucrative as Jones has. Most people with a brain knowing that the tons of dough sponsors are paying them could be yanked from their bank accounts as soon as they screw up would make a point not to screw up. Liddell wised up after that disastrous Texas morning interview where he showed up still drunk, Jones has had 3 years since his drunk driving car crash to wise up. Yet he upped the ante with Peruvian marching powder.

    • Mark says:

      With the lack of top Superfights, no way they’ll risk Jones getting beaten by Browne or Barnett before fighting Velasquez. And while I agree with the idea he should fight Werdum first if Werdum loses to Velasquez, that’s still not the money fight. It has no “You made my friend cry so I’m seeking revenge” UFC Primetime ability. It would do 400,000 and JJ/Cain would do at least 700K. Champion vs. Champion maybe more.

  14. Mark says:

    Lance Pugmire reported on Twitter Mayweather/Pacquiao could be finalized in the next 10 days.

  15. Terrence says:

    Jon Jones’ mother said he was only in rehab for one night. It’s at the end of this local news story:

    • rst says:

      The rehab thing is kinda peculiar,
      Is he a dope head or not?


      So the going into “rehab” deal seems interesting.

  16. rst says:

    “He’s 27. ”

    That nitwit Luke Thomas finally made a point…

    “Bonus unofficial point 11. Jones needs to figure out what he wants. His personal life’s vices aren’t that unusual relative to his demographic peers..unless you want to be the UFC light heavyweight champion of the world. Then your demo starts to narrow. One of the two has to give way, … If he wants to get from here to there, though, some tough choices about restraint and priority are in order.

  17. rst says:

    Lol @ 1 day in rehab. I was kinda suspecting that it was a public relations stunt to justify going ahead with the fight.
    And I dont see how it could be any clearer that that was a zuffa decision, not because Jon had a right to fight and they couldn’t stop him.
    Because if Jon was a real coke head, he wouldn’t have been in any condition to train or win that fight.

    Have you ever seen a coke head?
    They dont look like the LHW champion of the world.

  18. Diaz' spacked bowl says:

    Fighter pay is still an issue, even if a little white nose covers it up in the headlines.

    Nate Diaz ($20,000 – $4,000* = $16,000)
    Henry Cejudo first fight in ufc, after blowing his weight cut($15,000 + $15,000 = $30,000)

    I know people(Dana white) were saying… Nate should just fight and negotiate a new contract after another 6 fights, but seriously how in the world do you justify Cejudo(a nobody flyweight) getting $15,000 + 15 when Diaz(main event fighter who fought for the title and was the winner of the TUF show) gets $20,000 to show? $16,000 after he missed weight.

    Dana and the frattatas are straight up ripping off fighters.

    Mitrione(never fought for a title, not a main eventer, lost TUF) gets $66,000? And look at the fighters who you’ve never heard of getting the roughly the same$$$ as Diaz. Ed herman got $47,000? for what? And if they pay Moraga $25,000 to show, then shouldn’t Nate get at least the same?

    Main Card (FOX)
    Junior dos Santos ($130,000 + $130,000 = $260,000) def. Stipe Miocic ($30,000)
    Rafael dos Anjos ($41,000 + $41,000 + $4,000* = $86,000) def. Nate Diaz ($20,000 – $4,000* = $16,000)
    Alistair Overeem ($100,000 + $50,000 = $150,000) def. Stefan Struve ($40,000)
    Matt Mitrione ($33,000 + $33,000 = $66,000) def. Gabriel Gonzaga ($38,000)

    Preliminary Card (FOX Sports 1)
    Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($10,000 + $10,000 = $20,000) def. Claudia Gadelha ($10,000)
    John Moraga ($25,000 + $25,000 = $50,000) def. Willie Gates ($8,000)
    Ben Saunders ($14,000 + $14,000 = $28,000) def. Joe Riggs ($16,000)
    Drew Dober ($8,000 + $8,000 = $16,000) def. Jamie Varner ($20,000)
    Ed Herman ($47,000) vs. Derek Brunson (N/A) cancelled
    Bryan Barberena ($8,000 + $8,000 = $16,000) def. Joe Ellenberger ($10,000)

    Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
    David Michaud ($8,000 + $8,000 = $16,000) def. Garett Whiteley ($8,000)
    Henry Cejudo ($15,000 + $15,000 = $30,000) def. Dustin Kimura ($15,000)
    Ian Entwistle ($8,000 + $8,000 = $16,000) def. Anthony Birchak ($8,000)


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