The Nike deal means a lot to me," Jones told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com
). "It symbolizes something that I have been picturing forever. I preach about the law of attraction all the time and how if you focus on something and you apply yourself, if you do all the necessary steps and believe in it wholeheartedly, it can come to you.
"When I first joined this sport, I had a goal to be a UFC champion, and I had a goal to be sponsored by Nike. It's always been a goal of mine."
Jones (16-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC), who faces Dan Henderson (29-8 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on Sept. 1 at UFC 151 in Las Vegas, is the first MMA fighter with a global Nike deal. As a testament to the growing popularity of MMA, it was entertainment mogul Ari Emanuel, the co-CEO of talent agency William Morris Endeavor, who first arranged a meeting between Jones, his manager, Malki Kawa, and Nike executives.
"Ari Emanuel is the real deal," UFC President Dana White said. "When he makes phone calls, things happen."
Nike officials have yet to officially announce the multiyear deal, which had been rumored for several months and is expected to include a signature clothing line. There was speculation that Jones' July conviction on a misdemeanor DWI charge might scrap the deal, but the fighter known as "Bones" said Nike's decision to stick with him through his first career hurdle spoke volumes.
"Everybody said it wouldn't be possible, especially after me getting into my first controversial situation," Jones said. "I just kept the faith, and I kept pushing forward. I kept a positive outlook, and it happened."
Jones joins an exclusive group of athletes recognized as the best in their sport, and he'll be featured alongside superstars Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Tiger Woods, among others.
While the UFC champion is pleased with what the honor means for his career, he also hopes the deal is ultimately recognized as a turning point for all of his sport's athletes.
"It's definitely a magnificent thing — but not only for me," Jones said. "It's huge for me to be the first mixed martial artist to be placed alongside the names of LeBron and Kobe and Michael Jordan. Nike-endorsed athletes are the elite of the elite. But it's huge for everybody. It lets all the Fortune 500 companies know that it's OK to invest in MMA.
"If a fighter has exciting fights and he's marketable, now he can set his goal on Nike. Now it's more feasible, and my message to all the other fighters is, 'If I can do it, you can do it, too.' Goals that seem far-fetched, they're all in reality attainable."