The UFC Sponsors Jon Jones at UFC 145

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 by Tony Reid

Wait, did I read that right? Wow, I guess I did. The UFC is sponsoring Light Heavyweight Kingpin Jon Jones in his upcoming title fight against Rashad Evans at UFC 145 in Atlanta this weekend. “We came up with a strategy to keep it clean and be sponsored by the UFC itself,” Jones explained to MMA Weekly. “I’m glad the UFC wanted to work with me … I think I’m a good company guy. The UFC asks me to do anything and I always do it and I never tell them ‘no’ for anything.” Keep it clean? This deal couldn’t be any muddier even if was signed in the pouring down rain in a pig pen.

If that isn’t the definition of conflict of interest I don’t know what is. Actually I do know what the definition is and it goes a little something like this “A conflict of interest occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other.” So are they rooting for Jones to beat Rashad? Are they predicting Jones will beat Rashad? I can’t answer these questions but if the old adage of “putting your money where your mouth is” holds true then you can be the judge here and the decision isn’t all that difficult to make (Hopefully you do a better job than the judges we have seen in MMA lately. I don’t want to be forced to call you Cecil Peoples, Jr.)

But in a sense, aren’t they (the UFC) sponsoring Jones, as well as every fighter in the organization, in every fight? They are used in promotional materials, media relations, commercials, clothes-hocking, other angles and opportunities and hell, after all, they are paid to fight under the UFC banner. A sponsor is defined as “a supporter of an activity, event or person.” I would hope the UFC supports the activity, event and persons at UFC 145 in Atlanta this weekend, it is their show! And while we are in class, kids the definition of sponsorship is “a cash and/or in-kind fee paid to a property (typically in sports, arts or entertainment) in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with that property.” So this begs the question. How much more exposure can the UFC get out of throwing their name (or three letters) on an individual fighter’s banner, shirt and fight shorts at an event that is already being held in their name? Is the sponsorship worth the scrutiny and questions that will be raised from it? How can the company ever again say with a straight face that they are a neutral third party after this deal goes down? How can the company ever again say they have no stake or interest in who wins fights? How can they ever again be seen as fair? I don’t know, but what I do know is that this deal is a huge mistake and a huge dent in the credibility of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Zuffa, LLC.

Just the mere idea of sponsoring one man when opposing another man under your very own banner should be an complete outrage to anyone with common business sense (or any version of common sense for that matter) It would be the equivalent of the NFL sponsoring the New England Patriots when they took on the New York Giants in last year’s Super Bowl. How ludicrous is that to think about?

Not only are they playing favorites in this instance but think of poor old Rashad Evans. I tell people this all the time, he is one of, if not the nicest people you would ever want to meet. I think he has handled this entire situation about as well as anyone could expect or ask him to. First his team abandons him in favor of Jones and now the very company he bleeds, sweats and cries for does the same? In an interview with Ariel Helwani Evans stated “It seems they got their guy that they’re going to get behind, I guess. I can’t really say too much about that. I just got to go in there and do what I need to do. I can’t really worry about that. I can’t really worry about who they favor or who they may like. It doesn’t change anything.” I was pulling for Rashad even prior to this insane sponsorship deal, now I will be pulling for him even more.