Apr 21, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Jon Jones reacts to beating Rashad Evans in the main event and light heavyweight title bout during UFC 145 at Philips Arena. Jon Jones won the bout by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times. Mixed martial arts (MMA) is the fastest growing sport in the world, led by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and its stable of stars. They may continue to struggle in the television ratings department -- with Vince McMahon never missing an opportunity to point out as much -- but the UFC has exploded on pay-per-view (PPV) and has continued a push into the mainstream by cutting deals like the one they currently have with FOX.
Another measure of mainstream success and exposure is the type of sponsors a company attracts. And to that end, the UFC can consider a recent deal made by its Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones a major success. That's because "Bones" will now be sponsored by Nike after signing a multi-year endorsement deal with the clothing apparel giant.
"Dreams do come true," he said.
The general reaction to this has been two fold. First, it's considered a historic deal for the UFC, as one of its top young stars (Jones being just 25-years-old) will receive a promotional push the likes of which the company has never seen. Second, criticism has been levied from all sides thanks to a recent arrest for drunk driving. Indeed, the bigger your star, the wider the microscope you're under, or, as we on the streets say, haters gonna hate.
In this case, that includes WWE Champion CM Punk, who couldn't resist the urge to take a shot at Nike for sponsoring Jones even after his arrest:
"Let's reward more drunk drivers with endorsement deals! #responsibility," he tweeted.
I've been critical of Punk, especially the way he reacts to people on his Twitter account, but I happen to strongly agree with his stance here. Drunk drivers get far too much leeway in this country and while I don't have a problem with a man making a living after making a mistake, Jones showed zero regret or remorse in the wake of his being caught and simply went into hiding until he felt the situation was sufficiently swept under the rug.
It must be nice to emerge to a major sponsorship deal with a company like Nike.