The UFC is an ever growing attraction, and for years now the biggest selling point of the company has been the Light-Heavyweight division. That can often mean the champion can be the most marketable person in MMA, such is the UFC’s dominance of the sport: with legendary names such as Chuck Liddell and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson filling those roles in the past.
The current champion is one Jon “Bones” Jones. He is also one o the most dominant fighters MMA has ever seen, having defended his title an unprecedented 8 consecutive times without fail now – the previous highest in the division being 5. Some argue that he is one of the greatest fighters of all time. Yet at the same time, his career has been plagued by controversy, and he is by no means universally liked. Should he be a bigger star than he is?
The most recent of these controversies came just a couple of weeks ago, as in the aftermath of his victory over Daniel Cormier it was revealed that Jones had failed a drugs test a month earlier. He had tested positive for benzoylecgonine the primary metabolite of cocaine. Jones checked himself into rehab, where he spent just one night. He has since been fined $25,000 for violating the conduct code of the UFC.
But still, there seems to be some bias from the UFC that is unwilling to punish Jones more strenuously. The code of conduct mentioned above states that fighters can be disciplined for “criminal offences relating to performance-enhancing and prohibited substances, or substance abuse”. Yet the same code then goes on to say in its disciplinary section: “Upon conclusion of the investigation, UFC will have full authority to impose disciplinary measures on the fighter as warranted in its sole discretion.”
So basically, UFC can discipline people as they see fit on a case-by-case basis. And they have now shown no consistency on that front. Previous fighters who have failed drugs tests in the UFC have been subject to a suspension lasting at least 9 months, and several have even been released from the company.
It would be no secret as to why they have been more lenient with Jones – he is arguably their top draw at the box office, and they have invested significant amounts of time and energy into him. Of course they would be reluctant to lose all that. Still, that doesn’t mean the current situation to Jones is right or fair.
So should Jones be a bigger star than he is? Probably. At the very least he should be more popular. But the fact is that he is already apparently a big enough star to warrant special treatment. And the sad thing is this could make PPV buys for Jones’ next fight peak that little bit higher. Though it remains to be seen exactly what Jon Jones’ legacy will be if he keeps becoming embroiled in as many controversies throughout the remainder of his career as he has so far.