FightWhen Brock Lesnar began competing in the UFC in 2008 hardcore fans were upset that he blurred the lines between pro wrestling and MMA. Lesnar was a former WWE champion from 2000 to 2004 who was featured every Monday and Thursday night and had a pretty big following. “The Next Big Thing” also was a legitimate All-American wrestler at Minnesota and a freak of nature at 6’3″ 280 pounds. But having a “rassler” in the Octagon to some was blasphemy.

Lesnar brought his pro wrestling mentality with him and helped sell some big fights with Randy Couture, Cain Velasquez, and Alistair Overeem. He also had two fights with Frank Mir. One of which was UFC 100, the biggest show the UFC had done at the time. Lesnar willingly played the villain, or the anti-Mir, to which fans either loved or hated. But when he fought you paid attention and forked over the money for the pay per view or drove to a sportsbar to see him fight.

Chael Sonnen embraced the entertainment part of the sport and went from a guy no one really knew or cared about to quickly becoming one of the UFC’s biggest draws. When he was deemed the #1 contender after defeating Nate Marquardt in 2010 fans seemed indifferent at best, but when Sonnen started talking about all the things he was going to do to Anderson Silva he started to become more interesting. “Chael P.” did this by being an above-average fighter and arguably the best interview in sports. After his win over Brian Stann in Houston at UFC 136, Sonnen proclaimed to Joe Rogan that “Anderson Silva absolutely sucked” and the roof came off the place. It instantly went down as one of the best post fight interviews in UFC history. Whether they liked him or not, when Chael talked people listened. When it was time for him to fight people watched.

For a year or two Jon Jones has been in a similar situation but instead of embracing the heel role, he tip toes all around it. “Bones” has sent out nasty tweets and Instagrams only to delete them a few minutes later. At one point he claimed his phone was stolen after he called a fan in Sweden something that I won’t repeat here. Jones has insisted his phone was hacked and stolen. Once again Jones tried to be the nice guy instead of embracing his brash quick temper that the fans hated. In UFC Countdown shows Jones always talks about his fianceeĀ and children in interviews but when he was arrested for a DUI in 2012 he had two females in the car with him.

Jones could be the nicest guy in the world but he has been accused by Rashad Evans, Rampage Jackson, and Daniel Cormier as being fake. It didn’t help his cause when he beat Lyoto Machida at UFC 140 when his coach, Greg Jackson was caught on camera after the fight saying “Go check on Lyoto. Get some fans.” Jones did just as he was instructed.

Earlier this week Jones got into a scuffle with his next opponent, Daniel Cormier in Las Vegas. The UFC 178 media day brawl video has now become a Youtube hit and every MMA fan is talking about it. Suddenly UFC 178 can’t get here soon enough.

With fans complaining about the over-saturation of the UFC product you have to finally be excited for a UFC pay per view after watching Jones and Cormier going at it. But now the Nevada Athletic Commission is getting involved and the UFC President has expressed his disapproval. In real life though, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta are kneading their hands and laughing like drunken billionares counting in their heads all the money they are now going to make on the Jones-Cormier fight.

Without Brock Lesnar, Georges St. Pierre, and Chael Sonnen, the UFC really hasn’t done a good job at building up new stars to build around. Ronda Rousey, of course is the exception. The guys at Zuffa have tried to shove Conor McGregor and Demetrious Johnson down the fans’ throats to make them seem important. McGregor is a huge hit in Ireland but everywhere else no one seems to care. Johnson is the champ at 125 but when he fights the fans don’t tune in. And now with shows on Fox, Fox Sports 1, UFC Fight Pass, and pay per views, people need a reason to be excited about the UFC product. You can only put so many guys (or girls) on the almost weekly fight cards who were part of the cast of The Ultimate Fighter. People will eventually stop caring.

Jones and Cormier are both world class athletes but if you were to go up to a guy at Hooters on a Friday night and ask him who either was it’s doubtful he would know. Jones has been pushed to the moon by the UFC but he really hasn’t been embraced by casual fans. Cormier also hasn’t taken off despite being 4-0 in the Octagon and despite being an analyst for Fox. The UFC should be all over this brawl and it should be shown on a commercial several times when Monday Night RAW is on. Dana White needs to target casual fans from the same demographic as the WWE and get them excited. But instead you are going to see both fighters apologizing for the altercation at every turn and the footage won’t likely be used to hype the fight.

The UFC has historically built pay per views on feuds like Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra and Nick Diaz vs. Georges St. Pierre. Those fighters genuinely didn’t like each other but they never got into an altercation that was featured on ESPN. Jon Jones has had some big fights with Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson that were noteworthy but never did have as much buzz as he and Cormier have right now.

Vince McMahon would air the video on every show to get fans excited. It’s too bad Dana White won’t do the same.

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