UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones is one of the most successful fighters in company history. He holds numerous UFC records, including most light heavyweight title defenses, the longest winning streak in light heavyweight history, and the youngest fighter to become a champion in the promotion.
Jon Jones has toppled the crème de la crème of the 205-pound division to get where he is. He won the belt by taking out Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and has defended it against the likes of Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Alexander Gustafsson, and Lyoto Machida.
Yet, he remains one of the more polarizing figures in the sport. While most praise his skill in the cage, Jones seems to have at least as many detractors as supporters when it comes to his likability.
Celebrities, and especially athletes, are often the targets of a vocal minority that get noticed because they are generally the ones screaming the loudest. But why are they screaming at Jon Jones?
“I don’t know why Jon is not more loved or popular than he is,” said UFC broadcaster Joe Rogan on a recent edition of his popular The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Although he may not understand why Jones isn’t more popular than he is, he did venture to hypothesize about it, going so far as to level the charge that some of the detractors could be racially motivated.
“I don’t understand it. In my opinion, I will never miss a Jon Jones (expletive) pay-per-view. I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, he’s cocky. He’s this and (that).’ I wonder what the (expletive) 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. And 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 braggadocios as Chael was.”
Rogan did admit, however, that there is a distinct difference between Jones and Sonnen. While most people tend to believe that Jones isn’t playing any sort of role, trying to set himself up as the bad guy, Sonnen openly admits that he was trying to be the heel in MMA, and was quite successful at doing so.
“Chael was very entertaining. Best (trash) talker that MMA has ever seen. I think he’s a better (trash) talker than Muhammed Ali,” said Rogan. “He’s one of the best (trash) talkers ever. I really do believe that.”
That didn’t stem Rogan’s rant about the detractors and the racial comments that he believes are sure to be flung his way now that he’s opened the proverbial can of worms.
“I always found it odd when everybody would get upset at (Jones) and say that they didn’t like that he’s cocky. He’s 25 and he’s the UFC light heavyweight champion. He’s the youngest ever UFC champion. He destroyed Shogun to win the title, and I mean destroyed. He threw a flying knee and hit Shogun in the chin five seconds into their fight,” he went on.
“I know I’m going to get a bunch of hate tweets. ‘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,” Rogan continued.
“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. That’s one of the reasons Daniel Cormier was like, ‘You are fake; you are so fake.’ Cormier was saying that to him because I think he’s trying to counteract how people feel about him.”