Jon “Bones” Jones Returns to the Octagon
Following a fifteen-month absence, Jon “Bones” Jones (22-1) returned to the octagon to face Ovince Saint Preux (OSP) at UFC 197 Saturday night. Argued by many to be the single best pound-for-pound Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter in the business, Jones’s fight was his first since his suspension by the UFC due to a hit-and-run incident, and his time away from the sport showed.
In his last fight prior to his suspension, Jones memorably went five rounds with Daniel “D.C.” Cormier, winning by unanimous decision and retaining the light heavyweight championship at UFC 182 - a belt that Cormier has since claimed in Jones’s absence. Their rematch, fueled by bad blood and heated words was originally scheduled for UFC 197 before Cormier pulled out of the fight due to a leg injury.
Throughout the five rounds with OSP on Saturday, Jones failed to mount a consistent offense, and allowed OSP to connect with a dramatic counter punch in the second round. By the fourth round, Jones’s frustration led him to heave OSP into the air and back down onto the mat with a powerful thud, followed by a smattering of elbows and punches. Jones repeated the slam in the fifth round, but did little to put OSP away, eventually the two went through a pretty uneventful five rounds and Jones won by unanimous decision.
Following the fight with OSP, Jones was presented with a ceremonial belt that carries little meaning to him as it is only an interim title belt until Cormier gets back into the mix. Jones nonchalantly handed the “fake belt” off screen during his post-fight interview saying, “I don’t think I want that belt, it’s not the real belt, I want my actual belt back,” and apologized to his fans for his lack-luster performance. Later on at the post-fight press conference, Jones said he’ll be back in the gym this week to prepare for Cormier, which UFC president, Dana White, has teased as the main event of UFC 200, the promotion’s biggest event of the year.
Peppered with questions about ring rust, Jones attempted to put away any doubt that he would have been able to beat Cormier at UFC 197 by arguing that it wasn’t ring rust that impacted his performance, but that, “it was the switch of opponent.”
Jones added more fuel to the fire for a rematch with Cormier by giving him the finger on his way out of the octagon. “It creates buzz. It gets people ready for the fight. Me and D.C. don’t like each other. He’s been in my sights this whole time. We had a minor bump in the road and had to take a little detour, and now it’s back to this beef with D.C.,” said Jones about the gesture. “There was not too many emotions involved me with me doing it. It was more for fun. It was more to get a reaction from the fans and restart this storyline between me and D.C.”
Storylines that give meaning to the brutality of the sport coupled with fighters that understand the role drama has in setting records for pay-per-view sales will be important in building UFC’s brand in the coming years. Fighters like Jones, Conor McGregor, and Ronda Rousey are learning how to manipulate mainstream media to tell their story and activate their brands for larger audiences, a service that Activ8 Media specializes in for athletes and businesses alike.
With UFC 200 right around the corner, expect more drama as the promotion eyes setting pay-per-view records by capitalizing on the celebrity of its fighters.
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