Jon Jones is probably easily the most talented fighter in the UFC we have ever seen. A physical freak with flawless technique and seamless execution. To say he has been dominant in his Mixed Martial Arts career is an understatement. With a record of twenty-two and one, and the single loss being due to disqualification for an illegal strike, his resume truly speaks for itself. But, his ability and amazement aren’t the only ones speaking for his legacy. Jones has been in and out of the news consistently since 2012. He has gone from the face of the organization to the black sheep in a very short time. Dana White has just recently stated he will “Never take the risk of Jon Jones headlining another event”.
White’s frustration and disappointment stems from more than just Jones’ recent incidents that resulted in suspensions. Oh, did I forget to mention Jon is suspended again for another year, but I will get to that a bit later. This is the third time a Jon Jones event has had to be abandoned for reasons other than an injury. In 2012 Jones bailed on his initial fight with Chael Sonnen. This infuriated White who was vocal about how selfish and immature he felt Jones was by declining to fight. This fiasco was only a few months after Jones’ first major incident. This was in part of a DUI which he plead guilty to after getting into an accident in his Bentley while under the influence.
Prior to that DUI Jon was known for a much cleaner image though. One of the memorable stories was of him chasing down a burglar right before his fight at the Prudential Center when he noticed a mugging. Back then he was perceived as a good guy and a role model. Honestly it wasn’t even the DUI that changed how he was viewed. It was his press and promotion leading to his bout with Daniel Cromier that showed the world another side of Jon. In an ESPN interview where Jones thought recording had stopped, he shared some choice words with his opponent. Jones’ face was shocked when the reporter informed him that the cameras where still rolling and that everything had still been heard. The two made threats to one another which quickly escalated past the point of being competitors. It was obvious that tensions still flared from their brawl during a press conference earlier that day.
Following what some felt was the first time we saw the true Jon Jones, He defeated Cromier. Almost instantly he failed a drug test where he tested positive for a substance found in cocaine, and had a hit and run incident. From there Jones’ image was forever changed. That lead to the first suspension, the stripping of his title, and the postponement of the rematch with him and Daniel Cromier. In that time the UFC sought out other fighters to be the face of the franchise, but none of them shared the talent Jones had in the ring. Ronda Rousey was dominant but holes where visible in her technique and her arrogance rubbed some the wrong way. Conor McGregor while exciting and entertaining, is not the same polarizing master of his craft Jones is. It’s just different. Ironically when they were both confirmed as the cover athletes for the latest UFC game they both proceeded to lose their immediate following fight.
Jones is still truly unbeaten and still easily the best fighter to ever walk in the octagon. And, love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge his ability. Currently he is on another one-year suspension for a banned substance he was actually unaware was in a supplement he was taking. And while there are current rumors that his suspension may be shortened, this is still time away and out of his rightful place in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. But, then again Jones is not the first great fighter to have to step away in their prime. Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson both did the same, of course for two very different reasons; but nevertheless time away that has left us all wondering “What if?”. Now this is not me putting Jon Jones in the class of Tyson or Ali, but I have also comfortably said, I don’t ever see him being beaten. That is something only time will tell, and until then many of us will be waiting.
Jon, stay positive, remain hungry, maintain your resilience and come back better than ever; we your fans are still here and hoping to see you return to greatness.