If you’re reading this, chances are you are familiar with the story. UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion, Jon “Bones” Jones, made his first appearance in court today, since an alleged hit and run incident that took place on Sunday. As of the time of writing, he has had his travel restriction lifted, and may well still be able to compete at UFC 187 on May 23rd.
The story has gained depth and new layers since it broke on Sunday, and looks set to keep on running. A planned meeting between Jones, UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta today, can only add more intrigue.
Many, both inside and out of the UFC, have called for Jones to be stripped of his Light-Heavyweight title. Under the circumstances it seems a fair reaction. Jones is alleged to have been involved in an accident with another vehicle, fled the scene, returned to collect money, all the while ignoring the injuries of a pregnant woman in the other vehicle. To make matters worse, marijuana was found in the rental vehicle.
We are one month away from one of the largest shows the UFC will put on this year, and Jones is set to defend his title in the headliner. His actions are not becoming of a champion. While he worked hard to convince us otherwise, his actions rarely have been.
There are those who would go one step further. There have been calls for Jones to suffer the ultimate punishment and be released from the UFC. It’s a suggestion that continues to gather support, to simply do away with the Jon Jones problem.
There are many reasons why that won’t happen. While the actions of one of the company’s marquee names reflect badly on them, they won’t have damaged the UFC 187 buy rates one bit. In fact, it’s quite possible the show will do an even bigger number should Jones remain on the card.
When you combine that with Bellator waiting in the wings, ready to throw as much of Viacom’s money as neccessary, to secure Jones should he be cut, the idea is a non-starter.
Lets just cast aside the “best for business” filter for a moment, and pretend that releasing Jones is an idea that the UFC are even entertaining. Even once you take away the financial side, and the threat of him joining the competition, the UFC should absolutely not release Jon Jones, whether he is eventually prosecuted and found guilty of the crime or not.
Lets be clear, Jones is responsible and accountable for his own actions, but the UFC played a part in this too. To suggest that Jones’ previous misdemeanors, which include a DWI charge in 2012 and testing positive for cocaine, were cries for help would be assumptive. They should however, have served as the red lights flashing in the faces of Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta, that they had a problem that needed dealing with.
There is no doubt that Jones’ status within the company earned him a pass that other fighters would not have been afforded, and therein lies the problem. When your actions lead to such small consequence, what serves as your motivation to change?
The work for all concerned starts now, hopefully with that meeting between Jones, Dana White, and Lorenzo Fertitta today. The UFC have not earned the right to pass the buck on this one. They won’t shift Jon Jones on, nor should they, because to do so would be to wash their hands of a problem that they helped create.