Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones is 20-1, and recently broke the promotion's record for successful 205-pound title defenses. And outside of a close unanimous decision win over Alexander Gustafsson, he's made the entire division look foolish.
He's clearly one of, or perhaps the best mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters on the planet.
So why doesn't he enjoy the mass appeal that comes with those types of accolades? UFC color commentator Joe Rogan, using former middleweight and light heavyweight number one contender Chael Sonnen as an example, cites racism among fight fans as the possible culprit:
From his podcast (via MMA Fighting):
"I don't know why Jon is not more loved or popular than he is. I don't understand it. In my opinion, I will never miss a Jon Jones fucking pay-per-view. I've heard people say, 'Oh, he's cocky. He's this and [that].' I wonder what the fuck is going on with that and I'm going to throw this out there, I'm just going to say it: I wonder how much of it is racism. I really do. You know why? Because I think they look at him as this cocky black guy and I think a lot of people have an issue with that. I think that if he was a white guy and he was doing the same thing, a la a Chael Sonnen, I think he would be way more popular. Chael was never the successful athlete that Jon is, but I think Chael was way more successful as a promoter than Jon is. Jon has not been nearly as cocky or outwardly braggadocious as Chael was. I just always found it odd when everybody would get upset at him and say that they didn't like that 'he's cocky.' He's 25 and he's the UFC's light heavyweight champion. He's the youngest ever UFC champion. He destroyed Shogun [Rua] to win the title and I mean destroyed. He threw a flying knee and hit Shogun in the chin five seconds into their fight. I mean, Jon Jones is a motherfucker. He's a motherfucker, but for whatever reason people have had an issue with that. I know I'm going to get a bunch of hate tweets. 'Fuck you and your fucking bullshit. What do you got? White guilt? Calling out racism?' I'm probably going to get an equal amount from 'the Aryan race,' mad at me for defending Jon Jones, 'The cocky negro.' I really think there's something to that. I think people want a guy who is so physically gifted and young and brash and black and rich, they want him to have more humility or fake humility, as it were. I think Jon's trying that a little bit and that's one of the reasons Daniel Cormier was like, 'You are so fake.' Cormier was saying that to him because I think he's trying to counteract how people feel about him."
Here's what a typical UFC weigh in stream looks like the day before fight night:
There are definitely racist UFC fans, but are they to blame for Jones' inability to "go get some fans" over the course of his six-plus years inside the Octagon? Or is it simply a matter of hating the guy who never loses because ... well, he never loses?
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