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UFC lucked out with reported postponement of Jon Jones/Daniel Cormier UFC 197 rematch

By Zach Arnold | April 2, 2016

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The momentum for both Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier was heading on a negative track.

Mr. Jones found himself in an orange jumpsuit and more legal trouble for opening his mouth to a cop who didn’t have a problem looking for an encounter. His public image took a needling for calling the chatty cop a pig. Jones has the worst of all public personality traits for a top-level athlete: socially awkward, ambivalent, obtuse, stunted maturity, passive-aggressive, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde combined with a raw sense of entitlement plus IDGAF mode. It’s not a debate as to whether or not he’s a “bad guy” — he’s troubled and self-destructive. You’ve also seen the media reports about his brother Chandler who just got traded from the New England Patriots.

When you opine that his judgment outside the cage appears to be as awful as his judgment is great in the cage, that’s supposed to be an easy “bad boy” sell on paper. Not for Jon Jones. His rap sheet is as appealing as the proverbial turd in the punch bowl. Nick Diaz gets a DUI and nobody blinks. Jon Jones gets a DWI and the Internet explodes.

People will continue to pay to see Jon Jones destroy opponents, wreck their credibility, and strip away the respectability of his rivals into subordinate status. He did this to Daniel Cormier.

Jordan Breen labeled the upcoming re-match as one of the most important in MMA history. I only half-agree. It was going to be a fight that either saved Cormier’s MMA career as a high-end attraction or else permanently cement him into second-tier status. The box office for UFC 197 told you everything you needed to know. Very few people were giving Cormier respect after what they saw in the first fight. Heading into the UFC 197 fight, Jones was over a 3-to-1 favorite. What unresolved questions from the first fight needed to be answered in the re-match?

Jon Jones didn’t need the re-match with Daniel Cormier for any reason other than a paycheck and the opportunity to permanently obliterate a rival’s ability to make big money. And if he lost the re-match, there were already excuses built in because of his bad behavior.

There were rumors last week on Twitter that Cormier was spotted at an event and was having difficulty walking. That immediately raised alarm bells. A fully healthy Daniel Cormier would struggle against Jon Jones. An injured Daniel Cormier would have been primed for an early stoppage loss.

It’s not a surprise to hear a major name from the American Kickboxing Academy getting injured and having to back out of a big UFC fight. It’s a significant part of Cain Velasquez’s legacy. The price of doing business.

The image & momentum for both men was trending downwards. Jones for being a social nuisance and Cormier for being viewed as too much of an underdog. Americans like underdogs but move on from underdog athletes who lose. The box office numbers told the story. Three weeks out from UFC 197, UFC caught a break with Cormier’s injury. It will certainly be a pain in the ass to find a new opponent for Jon Jones or for re-booking the card, but the main event wasn’t selling tickets and you’re one more arrest way from Jones spending serious time in prison. A matchmaker’s worst nightmare is instability.

The macro-perspective to take away from recent events is how UFC will continue to struggle consistently promoting Jon Jones. He has the talent to dominate Light Heavyweight for years to come and bounce up to Heavyweight permanently. Given the lack of depth at Heavyweight, Jones has several golden tickets on paper. The problem for Jon Jones is that fans will pay to watch his fights but only if he is massively destroying fresh opponents and ripping their hearts out because nobody is convinced that an opponent will ever be at his level. UFC had the potential for a real rival in Alexander Gustafsson but they screwed that up by booking Gustafsson vs. Rumble Johnson in Sweden. Gustafsson was the one guy who had the physical tools and heart to match up properly against Jon Jones in a re-match. You had one job, UFC.

The downside to Jon Jones beating up his rivals so easily is that they don’t become rivals any more. They become afterthoughts. It’s tough to market an afterthought once the fans have an indelible impression of an athlete on the biggest stage.

But what happens if Jon Jones has some razor-thin fights or, gasps, loses? There’s no sympathy for him. There’s no angle for a redemption storyline. You admire and respect what an animal he is in the cage but not some of the decisions he’s made in his not-so-private life. Jon Jones is the closest we’ve seen to Michael Jordan in the cage but has none of Jordan’s bad boy charisma outside of it. You wanted to Be Like Mike. Tyson always had a flair for the danger and unexpected in a carnival-like media atmosphere. The ultimate Rorschach test. Joe Blow sees Jon Jones as a compulsive halfwit who consistently screws himself and others over. There’s a fine line for fighting authority and what kind of fan acceptance there is for it. The Diaz Brothers are mainstream hellraisers. They’re as intriguing losing as they are winning fights. They had to fight for what they earned. They’re always available to wreck your best laid plans. Always a second, third, and fourth act with those two men.

Daniel Cormier’s injury gave UFC the chance to re-calibrate and focus on a new game plan. They desperately needed this timeout. They need Jon Jones to take a timeout from jail as well.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 7 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

7 Responses to “UFC lucked out with reported postponement of Jon Jones/Daniel Cormier UFC 197 rematch”

  1. rst says:

    I’m not really all that intrigued by Jon/St.Preaux.
    It looks like a gimme, like Nate was supposed to be for conor. But without the at least wildcard of fighting up in weight. St.Preaux’s biggest win being the ridiculous shambling remains of Shogun as far as I know.

  2. DIAZ'S PACKED BOWL says:

    Speaking of negativity, Nate and Nick get pretty much no mention in any positive way by dana and the frattatas.

    Nate whups the irish superman and all Dana can muster is to verbalize his dream of Nate just sailing away never to be seen again. I’d say it was a fruedian slip, but he stated it at least twice on separate occasions, and hasn’t mentioned his name until he was listed as Connors rematch.

    And then it was all Connor hype, all about him righting his ship with no mention of Diaz.

    The bias is frankly pathetically disgusting.

    Diaz’s bros as everyone points out are real, they speak their mind at the time so you never know whats going to come out of their marijuana “enhanced” mouths.

    Nate’s interviews while a bit foggy sometimes(he was clearly ripping some tubes on the sonnen show)are far more entertaining than Connors constant money monologue.

    That little irish guy is already talking retirement in 3 years. You will never hear that type of inane babble from the Diaz bros. They will be fighting until they are killed.

    • Cutch says:

      The Diaz brothers get treated better than most especially Nick, hell he’s 0-3 his last win was over a decling BJ Penn years ago and they were still talking about putting him in with Robbie Lawler because he beat him 12 years ago which might have been a story had Lawler not lost about a dozen more times since then, he got a title shot after he lost an interim title fight.

      Nate had been on a losing streak beats a top 10 fighter and then is picked to make the most money in his career when he fought Conar, he’s now getting the chance to do it again and make even more money, GSP’s manager tried to set up a fight and Nate said that’s Nick’s fight despite the fact we’ve seen GSP easily beat Nick, he can probably pick either Lawler or RDA to fight if he beats McGregor again, even though RDA will destroy him again.

  3. DIAZ'S PACKED BOWL says:

    197 is a miserable card stacked with foreigners and nobodies, and foreign nobodies, which I won’t be watching.

    Wow, 26 fighters 1 white man on the card. Easy to see why this is not selling well here in the USA. I see why Dana promotes his grip of washed out white warriors so much, they’re just about the only white fighters in the ufc.

    At 185 at least Dana’s keeping it in the family with an immediate rematch.

    I’m not racist at all. Just pointing out the ufcs promotional bias towards the white man, while the rest toil away in relative obscurity.

  4. Cutch says:

    I’m not racist but this card is full of foreigners, despite the fact it has 4 Americans on the top, then an American fighting a Brazilian, all of whom are top 10 in their divisions.

    2 Foreign “nobodies” who are both ranked in their division and an American fighting a Mexican.

    The top two fights don’t have one white fighter but your not racist eh?

    • DIAZ'S PACKED BOWL says:

      Try reading it again, I think you missed the part where im pointing out one possible reason why this card isn’t selling. Its not racist to point out racism or bias.

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