September 21, 2012
Jon Jones tells UFC fans to chill out
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - UFC fighter Michael Bisping was having a good time interacting with the crowd during a public workout on Wednesday afternoon, when suddenly a guy shouted something about Bisping needing more than two punches to win a world title.
“Yeah, you’d know,” Bisping responded sarcastically.
Bisping, a native of Manchester, England, will face American middleweight Brian Stann in a non-title co-main event bout at UFC 152 on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre — with the winner possibly facing Anderson Silva for the world title.
Unfortunately, the good-natured banter Bisping had shared with the crowd earlier at the Xtreme Couture Gym in Etobicoke had deteriorated to the point where the guy (a tough-looking dude in a MMA Affliction T-shirt) then challenged Bisping to take his gloves off and step outside.
“(Only if you) take your dress off,” the British Bad Boy replied.
Finally, after a few more insults were exchanged, Bisping asked security to escort the guy out — another example of how some people take sports, and UFC in particular, a little too seriously.
Jon (Bones) Jones, the main even on Saturday’s card, can certainly relate to that. Jones headlines UFC 152, putting his light-heavyweight belt on the line against Brazilian Vitor Belfort — a match put together at the last minute (relatively speaking) after Dan Henderson was forced to pull out of his bout against Jones at UFC 151 because of an injury. Lyoto Machida was offered the chance to face Jones, but declined. And then Jones turned down Chael Sonnen as a challenger. UFC president Dana White was then forced to cancel UFC 151 and Jones was added to the UFC 152 card as the main event.
The down side to all the UFC 151 shenanigans (besides the UFC losing millions of dollars on the cancelled card and the undercard fighters losing a payday) was that Jones became public enemy No. 1 with many UFC fans. The web was, and still is, filled with vitriol for the UFC superstar as a result of his decision not to face Sonnen, with even White dumping on his sport’s biggest meal ticket. (Jones and White plan to sit down together in Toronto this week and try to hash out their differences).
But now that the dust has started to settle, Jones is finally able to put the controversy behind him and get on to what he does best, fight. He said the weeks since the cancellation of UFC 151 have been rough, but he has moved on and is in a good place.
“Keeping everything in perspective is what helps me deal with things, realizing my world is not that serious. It’s a game,” Jones said. “We’re all here just to watch a sport be played. It’s not life or death.”
Jones, the heavy favorite to defend his title against the 35-year-old Belfort, had a good time playing around with the crowd during his workout at the Xtreme Couture Gym, at one point wandering over to where a group of Belfort fans had gathered and offering a high-five, before pulling his hand back at the last second. The fans appreciated his conviviality and there were certainly no Jones haters present, at least not any who identified themselves, like Bisping’s pal did. And that was fine with Jones, who said later that people generally overreacted to his decision not to fight Sonnen.
“For myself, it was a good decision,” he said. “And at the end of the day, I’m the one that has to live with the decisions that I’ve made. I really don’t think the belt is as valuable to anyone as it is to me. I’m the guy who has been training for five years, and eating healthy and going to bed early and skipping out on great times when everybody else gets to be out doing whatever they want to do. I’m the one who’s dedicated myself to being the champion. I am putting my belt on the line. I’m doing it right now. I’m fighting Vitor Belfort on three weeks’ notice.”
At the end of the day, it’s the champion’s prerogative to choose an opponent (unless it’s a mandatory defence) and while Jones was taken aback by the anger, he never felt sorry for himself.
“People go through a lot tougher situations. LeBron (James) left Cleveland and had a whole state passionately hated him,” Jones said. “What I’m going through is very small when it comes to the grand scheme of real-life controversy. There’s people out there who are starving. There’s just a lot of serious things going on in the world. At the end of the day, all my drama is all based around a game. It’s really just a sport. It’s MMA drama. It’s not real-life stuff. So I can deal with people hating me or loving me. It’s just what it is. Ultimately, my job is just to entertain people.”