UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was thrilled when he was offered the opportunity to appear on the cover of EA Sports' upcoming UFC video game. Jones is a gamer himself and compared the cover slot to landing endorsement deals with Nike and Gatorade.
But Jones is going to share the cover with one of 16 other UFC fighters. Jones said he hopes it's women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, but said he expects the fans are going to vote for Alex Gustafsson.
Jones narrowly defended his belt against Gustafsson, winning a unanimous decision at UFC 165 in September in one of the year's great fights. Many fans wanted to see Jones rematch Gustafsson, but Jones will fight Glover Teixeira in the first quarter of 2014.
He suspects fans may send a message.
"I'm not going to be surprised if Gustafsson wins the vote, but ultimately it's up to the fans to vote, and I'm just excited to see who it's going to be," Jones told Yahoo Sports.
He said he would be pleased if it is Rousey because he respects her greatly.
"I would love to share the cover with Ronda Rousey because I'm a huge fan of hers," Jones said. "It would be so huge for women's MMA to have her on there and just women's sports in general and really the whole sport of MMA."
In addition to Gustafsson and Rousey, the other fighters in contention for the second slot are Demetrious Johnson, Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber, Jose Aldo, Anthony Pettis, Benson Henderson, Georges St-Pierre, Johny Hendricks, Chris Weidman, Junior dos Santos, Chael Sonnen, Michael Bisping, Daniel Cormier and Miesha Tate.
Vote runs Monday through Sunday each week. This week, the fighters square off in a Round of 16. It then goes to the Elite Eight, the Final Four and then two, with fans getting to vote each week at ufc.com/covervote.
"The UFC is the first new major sports league partnership for EA Sports in over a decade and to stay true to the sport, we're featuring two fighters on the cover," Dean Richards, general manager of EA Sports UFC said in a statement. "We couldn't be more excited to be working with Jon Jones and we can't wait to see who fans choose to join him in sharing the spotlight."
Jones told Yahoo Sports he felt it was "huge for me and huge for my brand to have my face on the cover of this game."