Fightweets: Will the real Jon Jones please stand up?

Esther Lin

It's a rare weekend without much of note going on in the mixed martial arts world.

But of course, that doesn't mean we won't find stuff to discuss.

So let's get right into another edition of Fightweets, in which we discuss what Jon Jones is really like; who might be the next breakthrough PPV draw' what exactly is going on with World Series of Fighting; this week's suggestion for an opponent for Anderson Silva's return, and so much much more.

Jon Jones: Nice guy or not?

@jayjensix: Is Jon Jones as much of a smug prick in person as he comes across?

I have this habit of drawing my conclusions about fighters based on how they actually come across in person. Granted, I have the opportunity to do so in a way the average fan doesn't. But either way, that whole one-on-one interaction thing makes it tougher to demonize someone than simply trying to glean things online.

In person, the UFC light heavyweight champ has always come off to me as thoughtful, introspective, and intelligent.

But I can understand why those who only know what they see on television and online might come to a different conclusion. There are times when Jones makes it all too easy for fans to come to decide they don't like him -- from the Twitter back and forth with with Joe Stevenson, to the, ahem, "Instagram hack," to the social media barbs aimed at Chuck Liddell following UFC 172.

I'm going to go along with what my colleague Luke Thomas pointed out on Friday's edition of The MMA Hour: Jones is still only 26. He's been in the limelight from the time he was 21. Because of everything he's accomplished, it's easy to forget that sometimes he's going to act like a guy in his mid-20s. Hell, I turn 41 in a couple weeks and I still publish Tweets and leave Facebook comments I regret from time to time.

I think the people around Jones have to pick a path for him: Either own the fact that a significant segment of the audience doesn't like him, no matter what, or intervene and better manage his online life. The clash between Jones' desire to be loved and his occasional online outbursts are helping cause the disconnect.

Silva vs. Diaz?

@maceseyebrows: What do you think of an Anderson Silva vs Nick Diaz superfight?

A couple weeks back, someone asked if Silva should fight Michael Bisping. This week, Diaz. I suspect between now and the end of the year, everyone up to including Cabbage Correira will be suggested as an opponent for the former middleweight champ's return fight.

The speculation is understandable, though. If and when Silva does return, they can't put him right back into a championship-caliber fight. Even if Silva returns by, say, next year's Super Bowl weekend card, he will have been be out for over a year, will be two and a half years removed from his most recent win, and, oh yeah, he's coming off a gruesome injury.

Since we don't know what level Silva can compete at when he returns, then the doors fly open to fights which once seemed off-limits. Bisping never quite rose the the level of title challenger, but now it makes a lot more sense, both from a competitive and a box-office perspective.

As for Diaz, he tried to call out Silva at one point a couple years back, but that wasn't happening for multiple reasons, a key one being the weight difference. Now? Well, eventually Diaz will get it through his head that he's not getting a title fight. A match with Silva in Silva's return would afford Diaz the sort of paycheck he's grown accustomed to.

Silva could fight a broomstick in his return and it's going to be a major draw just because of the curiosity factor. With the right opponent, though, we're talking one of the biggest-money fights of the year. Bisping is one such draw. Diaz is another.

The next big thing?

@The_AaronOBrien: Next big PPV star or one who has most potential out of current champs and why.

Another popular question these days. Let's start with the guys who aren't quite there: Anthony Pettis has the skills, personality, and back story to become a superstar. But he's injured so damn often that it becomes an out of sight, out of mind thing.

Cain Velasquez is already a superstar to Latino fans in California and the Southwest. Otherwise, he's a respectable draw, but the combination of his long injury absences and his low key personality are keeping him from being a mega-draw. The one-minute loss to Junior dos Santos still hurts him with the casual audience. Fair or not, there is a considerable number of people around the country who think "oh, he's the guy who got knocked out in a minute the last time I watched one of those fights" if they flip through the channels and see Velasquez. That's tough to overcome, no matter how many guys you mow down afterwards.

So, who doesn't have an injury history, a poorly timed knockout loss, or a language barrier (hello, Nova Uniao Wonder Twins) in the way? Chris Weidman. He already has the notoriety from his pair of wins over Anderson Silva. A win over another ex-champ in Lyoto Machida would be a huge notch on his belt. Basically, Weidman has the potential to be the next Georges St-Pierre type star, minus the rabid Canadian fan base. Weidman is a humble, no-nonsense, hard worker, the sort who embodies everything fans have grown to love about the sport of MMA. He has a quirky sense of humor that's just starting to shine through, and it doesn't hurt that he's based in New York, either. It might take some time for Weidman to get there, but if you wanted me to put money on the next breakout draw, Weidman's as close to a sure bet as it out there right now.

Mismatch lover

@NoGamesJones: Why are MMA fans so against perceived mismatches i.e. A. Silva & J. Jones fights. Not enough to witness greatness?

Well, there is a market for mismatches, to which the television ratings attained by Kimbo Slice's Elite XC can-crushing tour forever stands as a concussed monument. But, the tiny little bothersome detail that the people on the receiving end of mismatches are human beings, and not video-game characters, keeps getting in the way of our enjoyment of the carnage.

In other sports -- like, say, the Clippers beating the Lakers by 50 back in March -- the only thing thing that gets hurt is the overmatched loser's pride. One-sided contests in combat sports can, and have, ended in catastrophe. There's a reason we've been so lucky about the relative lack of major injury in MMA at its highest level -- there are strong matchmakers in the top-tier promotions, who do their best to match up opponents of relatively equal skill, the odd Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie bout notwithstanding. That's the way it should be.

World Series of Drama

@dpop2: I think WSOF's recent plight just goes shows why UFC should be the only major promotion. Thoughts?

Well, I don't know about "should be." Zuffa has earned its spot at the world's top MMA promotion, but it's by no means some sort of God-given right. PRIDE's position at the top of the business was long taken as a given, too.

World Series of Fighting is going through very public growing pains. Whereas the company was once just one of the countless startups we've seen come and go, they've proven to have some staying power, live events on NBC are a pretty big deal, and they're pretty much the No. 3 player in the sport.

WSOF has established a niche: If you're a veteran, they're a place you can go, rack up a few wins, and maybe get another shot in the UFC. If you're a legit up-and-comer, a Nick Newell or a Marlon Moraes, and you don't want to get caught up in the grind of the Bellator tournament system, this is a way to get on TV and gain exposure.

Now comes the part where WSOF has to adjust from toddler treatment to wearing big boy pants. And the uglier side of that has shown in the public spats, with fighters complaining on Twitter and management firing back.

There's a reason Strikeforce and Bellator had/have progressed as far as they have, while the Elite XCs and Afflictions flamed out fast. But the best managers of the smaller national promotions have been the Scott Coker and Bjorn Rebney types: those who, other than a notable slip up here and there, almost always put the professional ahead of the personal in their public dealings. Firing back at your fighters in public might work if you're Dana White and you've got a Sectretariat-sized lead on the competition, but when you're one of the smaller fish, it's more of a harm than a help.

The People's Champ?

@NetworkOverlord: People still care about Tito?

Umm, random. Hey, I don't want to see Tito Ortiz return to fighting. I said as much after he pulled out of his last fight. But Ortiz still produces clicks, still gets eyeballs on TV screens, still gets people talking, even if they're saying things like "I never want to see Tito Ortiz fight again." Ortiz is one of the few Bellator fighters who can draw attention, and the means he's still of value to Rebney and the company. I'm not saying anyone is buying the PPV specifically to watch Tito -- they won't -- but Ortiz will attract attention, and within those stories, they'll mention the event, and then people may google the rest of the card from there. That's where Ortiz fits into the picture at this point.

Got a question for a future Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.

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