In a perfect world athletes could go out, execute their craft and be judged exclusively on their physical abilities and poise in situations of great pressure. But as we have been reminded time and time again… The world isn’t perfect. In a society that thrives on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (Insert social media platform of your choice here…) and most importantly traditional news media. Being a professional athlete has truly become a 24/7 job. Your image, or more importantly brand hangs in a very delicate balance, with the risk all of your physical accomplishments being tarnished by a tweet, a picture, a statement. Welcome to the 21st century. To find an example, look no further than UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones, to serve as a model for this cautionary tale. An athlete so gifted and dominant that fans are already wondering who will be cast as him when the inevitable biopic of the greatest mixed martial artist of all time comes to a theater near you. But despite his astonishing accomplishments inside the cage, he still remains polarizing to a large portion of fans who simply view him as a charlatan. Recently, Jones who fights UFC Light Heavyweight Glover Teixiera Super Bowl weekend in New Jersey, has been asked about a fight with rising heavyweight and former US Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier. This is a fight that if made could be a blockbuster. That is, if Cormier can make the significant weight cut to 205, and that’s a big “If”. But even though Cormier takes on fellow heavyweight Roy “Big Country” Nelson this month at UFC 166, fans are still clamoring for this theoretical UFC Light Heavyweight match up between Jones and Cormier. Jones who has been on a media whirl wind recently, not only fulfilling media obligations for his recent fight with Alexander Gustafsson, but also for the ambitious UFC World Tour which has been traveling to cities all over the globe. Throughout the duration of these press dates, Jones has been asked a litany of questions on a number of topics. As you can guess the topic of a potential fight with Daniel Cormier has come up, a lot. At a recent luncheon in Los Angeles Jones was asked about potential opponents, and as you would imagine the topic of a fight with Daniel Cormier came up. Not surprisingly, Jones pulled no punches regarding his feelings on Cormier. He touched on not only he views Cormier the fighter, but more interestingly, Cormier the person.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think Daniel Cormier really deserves a big fight,” Jones said. “I don’t respect him as a person. I think fighting me would be an opportunity of a lifetime for him. I don’t think I have much to gain from beating Daniel Cormier because no one knows who he is, and he hasn’t really proved much.”
Jones, then strangely went into a race inspired rant. regarding his disappointment in the lack of unity amongst African American fighters within the UFC ranks.
“He seems to really not like me and be a big hater of mine,” Jones said. “It’s sad, considering we’re both African-American and there’s not many of us in the sport. We should try to find a common bond. We don’t need to be friends, but we should at least respect each other. It’s pathetic that me and Rashad have such a bad relationship and me and Daniel have such a bad relationship.”
And here in lies the dilemma regarding Jon Jones and his constant issues regarding his performance outside the cage. Anyone who reads those two quotes from Jon Jones can sense hypocritical undertones. It’s a shame that such a gifted athlete like Jon Jones, who is on pace to potentially go down as not only the greatest UFC Light Heavyweight of all time but the greatest fighter, has to still be judged for his actions outside the cage. But then again, life isn’t fair. One of the elements that helps athletes, or any person in the public spotlight for that matter, be compensated so well is one of the same things that is a major source of their transgressions. Ironic, isn’t it? You have to play the game. Unfortunately this doesn’t end once the competition does. The truth is when you are in the spotlight, your star can shine bright. But such as in science, too much pressure can cause said star to implode. Nobody’s perfect, and though Jon Jones oozes perfection when he crawls inside the Octagon, he is still a human being when he exits it. Enter his apparent nemesis, Daniel Cormier. The SiriusXM spoke to the UFC Heavyweight on Tuesday, and as you would think the topic of Jones’s statements and a potential fight with him arose. And despite our best efforts to make Cormier vent his frustrations, the UFC Heavyweight did not relent.
And there you have it. Two completely different ends of the spectrum. At least as far as medias relations goes. Cormier handles the awkward questions like an opponent he was looking to submit. A question that he knows, will most likely be dissected like a frog in a 7th grade chemistry experiment. Jones on the other hand is still refining his game when it comes to the media and the maneuvering that comes with being a superstar athlete. Is it age? Will he ever be able to hold the media in the palm of his hand, like an MMA equivalent of Derek Jeter? These questions remain to be answered. But until he learns how to verbally spar outside the cage… He can never consider himself truly well rounded after he has completed work inside of it….