Jones wears unwanted villain label in UFC 152 bout

Regardless if he’s uncomfortable accepting the role, Jon Jones is now officially a heel.

The dominant Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar always has had his share of detractors. Some call him cocky, others fake. No matter how unbelievably skilled the light heavyweight champion is in the cage, there always has been a segment of the fan base that would boo him.

That segment has turned into a large majority if the reaction to Jones at Friday’s weigh-in for UFC 152 tonight in Toronto was any indication. Jones was loudly booed from the time he appeared on stage, through the moment he stepped on the scale and throughout his brief interview with color commentator Joe Rogan.

Jones can expect the same type of reaction tonight when he walks out to put his title on the line against Las Vegan Vitor Belfort in the main event.

Athletes, fighters in particular, do not have to be loved by fans to market themselves. In fact, being despised can be just as profitable, if not more so.

But Jones said last week he just doesn’t like being viewed in such a negative light.

“I am not going to say I have embraced the role of being a villain because I am not,” he said. “I am not a villain. I am not a bad person. I pride myself off of inspiring others.

“As a person, I am like the nicest person ever to everyone who has ever met me. I am like the nicest person ever, and I know that for a fact. I am not ever going to embrace a villain role. That is not who I am as a person.”

That is not exactly how many fans view Jones.

Since last stepping into the cage in April, Jones has been on a public relations roller coaster. While he continued to be accepted into the mainstream with appearances all over the TV dial and a global deal with Nike, the first of its kind in mixed martial arts, Jones also was arrested and pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in New York.

Then there was that little matter of UFC 151. Jones turned down a fight with replacement opponent Chael Sonnen on eight days’ notice after Dan Henderson suffered a knee injury and a card was canceled for the first time in the modern era of the organization.

UFC president Dana White unleashed a verbal tirade toward Jones and his trainer, Greg Jackson.

White has said he doesn’t regret a word of what he said, and Jones insists he would make the same decision again.

The young champion does admit he is still getting used to every decision and every comment becoming a major story, though.

“I make a lot of mistakes,” he said. “I say a lot of things that make people upset, you know. I don’t think people realize five years ago I was just an average kid. Grew up poor, went to college and dropped out. I’m just like a normal dude. I am 25 years old. I’m going to make lots of mistakes. I never got officially trained for PR and stuff. I am just a snotty-nosed dude. I say what I feel, and some people totally dig me and understand everything I say. Other people think I’m the most arrogant person in the world. Who knows? But I’m just me, and I’m growing to be more comfortable in my skin.”

Jones always has been comfortable inside the cage. Tonight at the Air Canada Centre, he has a chance to begin putting all the drama behind him, entering as a nearly 10-1 favorite over Belfort, a 35-year-old former champion who has been competing mostly at middleweight for the past several years.

The fight is one of two title bouts on the pay-per-view card, which airs at 7 p.m.

Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez will compete to determine the first flyweight champion in UFC history. Each lost title shots at 135 pounds to Dominic Cruz, but jumped at the chance to drop to their more natural 125-pound division.

A pivotal middleweight bout between Michael Bisping and Brian Stann also is scheduled. At least four preliminary card fights will air live on FX (Cable 24) at 5 p.m. The rest of the undercard will stream live on the UFC’s Facebook page.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

ad-high_impact_4
Covering The Cage Videos
Covering the Cage: Frank Mir interview
Adam Hill talks to Bellator MMA heavyweight Frank Mir about his upcoming fight.
Covering The Cage: Rose Namajunas Retains Title
Covering the cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang go over Rose Namajunas retaining the Women's strawweight title.
Covering The Cage: Changes To UFC 223 Fight Card
Covering The Cage host Heidi Fang and Adam Hill go over changes to the UFC 223 fight card including Khabib Nurmagomedov's new opponent.
Covering The Cage: Conor McGregor Posted $50,000 Bail
Covering The Cage hosts Heidi Fang and Adam Hill go over Conor McGregor in facing three misdemeanor chargers and posting $50,000 bail.
Covering The Cage: Conor McGregor Court Appearance
Covering the Cage host Adam Hill and Heidi Fang go over the recent developments of Conor McGregor.
Covering The Cage Facebook Live - March 29,2018
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang talk UFC 223 live via. SKYPE with Ufc Interim Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson on his main event clash with number 1 contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Covering the Cage: UFC 222 recap
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang discuss UFC 222
Covering The Cage: UFC 222 Recap
Covering The Cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang go over the main card fights including Cris Cyborg keeping her title, Bryan Ortega's win over Frankie Edgar and Sean O'Malley fighting through an injury.
UFC 222: Fight Preview
Covering the cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang provide a preview for UFC 222 as well as their predictions.
Covering The Cage: UFC 222 Preview
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang go over the top fights to watch for at UFC 222 including Cris Cyborg and Brian Ortega.
Covering The Cage: Live Interview With Elias Theodorou
Covering The Cage host Heidi Fang talks with Elias Theodorou to preview UFC on Fox and becoming a ring boy.
Covering the Cage: Roy Nelson interview
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang talk about the world of MMA as well as interview heavyweight Roy Nelson.
Covering the Cage: Feb. 6 Facebook Live
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang discuss UFC Fight Night 125 as well as preview UFC 221 and UFC 222.
Covering The Cage: Ronda Rousey joins WWE; UFC on Fox 27 recap
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang discuss Ronda Rousey’s move to WWE and recap UFC on Fox 27.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like