With his Ali -like reach accompanying his 6’4 frame, the sheer athleticism that allows him to throw effective punches off the wrong foot and a laser focus that burns through virtually every opponent, a consensus thought is it would take a Jon Jones type to beat the man considered the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world.
Outside of the cage Jones has found such a calculating foe who can match him stride for stride–himself. And not for the better. Hours ago arrested again in Albuquerque, New Mexico, behind bars for alleged drag racing days earlier and other vehicular charges adding up faster than his famous flurry of strikes in the octagon to a parole violation stemming back to a hit-and-run in April 2015 in the same city.
Cars, that might be his Achilles heel. It was 2012 when he wrapped his luxury ride around a utility pole near his home in Binghamton, New York later pleading out to driving while intoxicated resulting in a suspended license.
There is a pattern obviously but one that can’t be so easily analyzed. Arguably the most gifted MMA fighter in history who rocketed through the UFC from his 2008 debut in UFC 87 to less than three years later becoming light heavyweight champion in March 2011 at UFC 128.
That followed by eight, count ’em, eight title defenses. The last at UFC 182 against Daniel Cormier, January 3, 2015. A Date to remember because at the time of this writing there has been no word from the UFC about the upcoming rematch with Cormier set for April 23 at UFC 197.
Cormier is the new champ, taking control of the division after Jones was stripped of his title after that hit-and-run in a strong and correct move by the UFC. The message was clear last year–straighten up your life. That incident last year was the bitter icing on a crumbling cake for Jones who had traces of cocaine discovered in his system during a pre-fight drug test before his last title defense.
Without convoluting matters more on how he still was allowed to fight, because of a loophole in the rules, what is simple is Jones remains troubled and in trouble. There was a never explained stopover in a rehab facility where he checked out as quickly as he checked in questioning how seriously he was about it all.
Enough rehashing the ills and woes and behavioral issues that are on the record and are being looked at again after his latest ordeal. Again, the why such an explosive fighter who seemed both effortless and spontaneous in the cage, so disciplined to defend the belt all those times is a combustible mess outside of it that continues to downward spiral?
He was reinstated by the UFC. He was welcomed back by fans and media. People had not given up on him, he was still regarded as the top fighter by many so let’s get back to business. There was no excuse for self pity or doubt, it was time for redemption, renewal, the revival of Jon Jones. Kill the fatted calf and watch the PPV numbers soar in a few weeks.
This is not to bury Jones. He is smart, articulate, and at times charming. He has appeared several times on Inside MMA dating back to pre-UFC days when he was a raw, rising talent who had wisely, only recently dropped his self given nickname “Sexual Chocolate.” That Jones was eager, still humble, and quite engaging. He changed over time, but by then he was becoming rich and famous and it happened so suddenly that who among us couldn’t understand that it’s a lot for a still youngster in more ways than most of us can barely manage to fathom. He was on major talk shows, getting huge endorsement deals never before for a MMA fighter and when the camera was on he was money for himself and the UFC.
At the core of Jones there was a strength coming from a family that was close and oh so talented with two brothers in the NFL who probably helped “Bones” as he became known, keep his feet fairly planted. The wish is he finds that again.
There will be a few pseudo psychological determinations on air waves and blogs; tweets from those who have seen him as a villain even on his best days; and worse some of his supporters that could never tell Jonny he was doing wrong.
Perhaps more will hope that he can fight in a few weeks than he gets himself under control. It’s beyond just saying No. While this has the making of the classic cautionary tale of the bright star burning so brightly, so rapidly and then disappearing, Jon Jones is still here, in a jail cell at this moment. Not where he should ever be again.
Whatever he is thinking, the hope is that this marvel of a fighter, this charismatic kid in a man’s suit, realizes the fight most important on the horizon isn’t with Daniel Cormier.
Got something you’re burning on? Tell the man himself on Twitter.
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