By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will take on a different role this Sunday night, as he’ll serve as an honorary race official for the 54th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
The race airs on FOX at 1PM ET this Sunday from the Daytona International Speedway. As an honorary race official, Jones will be introduced to the drivers before the race, be a part of the pre-race ceremonies, and he’ll ride in one of the cards ahead of the field prior to the start of the race.
“Jon ‘Bones’ Jones is the biggest name in mixed martial arts,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “We are excited to welcome him to the ‘World Center of Racing’ and have him be a part of the pre-race ceremonies for NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race.”
“I am thrilled to be able to serve as Honorary Race Official at this year’s Daytona 500, NASCAR’s premier event,” Jones said. “Like the UFC, NASCAR has a passionate and knowledgeable fan base, and I am honored that I will get to share this experience with them.”
Jones will defend his title for the third time this April, when he takes on former teammate-turned-rival Rashad Evans at UFC 146 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Penick’s Analysis: Jones’ mainstream exposure continues to grow, and the UFC’s partnership with Fox opens up these types of crossover appearances. If Jones continues to defend his title, he’ll continue to raise his profile, and the UFC is positioning him to potentially be a breakout star. He hasn’t quite gotten to that level just yet, but he’s certainly on his way. Dominating wins over more top opponents this year and next could get him there, and we’ll likely see more of these types of appearances from him throughout.