Jon Jones: face of the UFC?

April 26, 2014

The New York Times‘ William Rhoden penned a piece for the paper in lieu of the UFC event in Baltimore which deems Jones a face of the UFC.  Rhoden writes, “Jones is the perfect ambassador for a polarizing sport.”  Rhoden could have used polarizing to describe Jones as well.

Obviously, Rhoden is not a full-time MMA fan.  If he were, he would know that Jones is passionately loved and hated by fans.  Jones has had his fair share of PR troubles stemming back to his DWI  in May 2012 to being blamed for the cancellation of UFC 151 later that year to the latest issues with his Instagram account.  This does not include some of the off-putting comments he makes which seem to annoy the average MMA fan.  With all of this negativity that is drudged up, it’s hard to recall that this was the same guy that helped stopped a robber the same day he had a title fight.

Throughout these problems, it has not hurt him from obtaining blue chip sponsors.  Nike is the biggest sponsor for Jones (based on the weigh-ins on Fridays, it appears that Nike does not want to pay the UFC sponsor fee).  At UFC 165, he also wore a Gatorade logo on his trunks.  Few UFC fighters could obtain these sponsors.

When you look at the PPV numbers, Jon Jones is the top active UFC fighter in terms of overall PPV buys.  Certainly, the numbers are skewed (i.e., UFC 94, 100) with some PPVs since he was riding the coattails of a main event.  Still, the numbers are the numbers.

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

Jon Jones UFC PPV appearances

625,000 UFC 87
920,000 UFC 94
1,600,000 UFC 100
725,000 UFC 126
490,000 UFC 128
520,000 UFC 135
485,000 UFC 140
700,000 UFC 145
450,000 UFC 152
550,000 UFC 159
310,000 UFC 165


The PPV numbers reflect that Jones averages 610,455 buys in his PPV appearances.  If you want to be more specific, in those PPV events where he has been in the main event (essentially UFC 128 – UFC 165), Jones has averaged 500,000 PPV buys.  For those wondering, Ronda Rousey averages approximately 597,000 PPV buys in her three appearances.

Payout Perspective:

I would expect a warm reception from the Baltimore crowd on Saturday as his NFL-playing siblings will likely be a part of the entourage during his entrance to the Octagon.

Even if Jones was not the true draw in all of his PPV appearances, he has to be considered the face (or at least “co-face” with Ronda Rousey) of the UFC based on how the UFC is marketing him and the fact he is the Light Heavyweight Champion.  The UFC is in need of a fighter that can generate the interest that a GSP and/or Anderson Silva can bring to a PPV.  Jones has now had 7 PPVs where he has been in the main event with moderate success.  The 500,000 PPV average is very good but some of that can also be attributed to his opponents (i.e., Rashad Evans, Rampage Jackson, Chael Sonnen).

In September 2012, we took a look at the PR predicament of Jon Jones post-UFC 151 cancellation.  The takeaway was that he had yet to learn to be comfortable with his role as a UFC headliner.  More than two and a half years later, how has he done?

As Jones faces another test on Saturday night, his image is polarizing.  He is revered by mainstream media outlets as he is come across as a genuinely nice guy.  But MMA social media, web sites and those who comment on them have a different opinion.

Certainly the perceived ego and his PR gaffes have contributed to the online hate for the champ.  Many have soured on him despite his dominance in the division.  If Jones gets past Texeira, he will likely have at least two big fights upcoming that could draw big PPV numbers:  a rematch with Alexander Gustaffson and Daniel Cormier.  If Jones were to prevail, it would solidify him as one of the greatest fighters in the Octagon.  But, will fans warm up to him or continue to root for his opponents.

3 Responses to “Jon Jones: face of the UFC?”

  1. Sampson Simpson on April 26th, 2014 11:14 AM

    Well.. This is embarrassing lol! When a homophobe is your main draw, you’re company is a joke. Boxing has Mayweather, PacMan, Marquez, Canelo, Ward, Broner , etc.
    WWE has significantly more household names than both in Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, Triple H, Randy Orton, The Undertaker, John Cena, Antonio Cesaro, the list is endless.

  2. Logical on April 26th, 2014 5:01 PM

    “Jones is proof that you can be a fan of the individual without being a fan of the sport.”

    Clueless writer.

  3. assassin on April 27th, 2014 6:13 AM

    Self Centered, religious homo-phobe? sounds about right. List above got me thinking, did anyone else notice he has never headlined a card in Vegas? So .. mre the traveling salesman of the UFC. Great fighter though.

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