Many consider Jon Jones to be the future of Mixed Martial Arts – and starting today, you can add Nike to that list.
The apparel giant announced that the UFC’s reigning light-heavyweight champ, and all-round decent guy/despised faker Jon “Bones” Jones would become the first athlete in MMA signed to a worldwide sponsorship deal. Just in case you were skimming – Jon Jones just got signed to a worldwide sponsorship deal by Nike.
Whoa. That’s huge. In fact, this may be the biggest boon of Jones career – and when you’re the guy who laid waste to “Shogun” Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans consecutively, that’s no small achievement.
MMA (and the sport’s fans) are forever on a quest for legitimacy, for the embrace of the “mainstream”. And like it or not, business deals like this are a huge part of elevating the sport’s profile in the public eye.
Even the greatest, most exciting fight ever can’t compare in marketing terms to GSP’s face on an Under Armour poster, Anderson Silva hawking a Whopper, or the Nike “swoosh” hanging out next to Jon Jones’ world title belt on camera. Just think about how synonymous guys like Tiger Woods became with the Nike brand, and how that synergistic relationship drove both to even greater heights.
So speaking of handsome, intelligent black guys who dominate at sports and have a penchant for ruining really expensive cars (sorry, had to). In all seriousness, it’s remarkable that Nike elected to sign Jones considering his very recent and high profile loss to “The Law” via unanimous decision.
Hopefully, this is a sign that incidents such as that one are an aberration for Jones, rather than a sign of things to come. Either way, having one of MMA’s biggest stars become endorsed by a brand as visible as Nike is a huge feather in MMA’s (and Jones, of course) cap.
Hopefully, he won’t be the last.