In case you forgot who one of the primary faces of the UFC is these days, you'll be reminded loud and clear come April 21.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who meets Rashad Evans at UFC 145 next week in Atlanta, announced on Friday that he would be sponsored by the UFC for his third title defense. Fighters are often plastered with a whole host of different logos on fight night, but the UFC generally isn't one of them.
Jones said on a UFC 145 pre-fight conference call that his team came up with the idea of being sponsored by the UFC to attract other blue-chip sponsors.
"For this fight, I have a goal, I've had a goal of being sponsored by Nike for many, many years," he said. "Part of our strategy to try and make that happen one day is to not be a billboard, and not just be sponsored by TapouT one week, and Affliction one week, and then MusclePharm next week, and all these random companies. If you realize, I try to look for relationships with companies, long lasting relationships with companies. So a part of my brand is to keep it clean. Less is more in my opinion.
UFC president Dana White told NBCSports.com on Friday that Jones will simply be sporting items from the UFC's clothing line on fight night and that he isn't technically "sponsored" by the UFC. However, Jones made it clear that the line was in fact sponsoring him. He said he came up with this idea after his former main sponsor, Form Athletics, went out of business late last year.
"When Form Athletics went down pretty much every company in the business was looking for an opportunity to work with me, and I was really honored just to be wanted like that. I thought it was really awesome; it was a real honor," Jones said.
"We came up with a strategy to keep it clean and be sponsored by the UFC itself. I'm glad the UFC wanted to work with me as well, and I think that they trust that I'll never make them look bad. You never have to worry about me with a DWI or doing something crazy."
Jones is featured on the cover of this month's UFC Magazine and recently starred in a UFC on FOX national commercial, as well. He is without a doubt one of the biggest stars in the sport.
"I think I'm a good company guy," he said. "Whenever the UFC asks me to do anything and I always do it. I never tell them no for anything. I've had to do more marketing than any other fighter because I say no to absolutely nothing. I don't think most champs are like that. I think they realized I'm a company guy and they decided to sponsor me."
And the good news for Jones is that if a major company like Nike does come calling after UFC 145, he would be contractually free to pursue a business a relationship with them.
"They put in the deal that if any mainstream companies come after this win that they will let me go," he said, "and I think that's awesome."