Jon Jones: The Man and his fall from grace
Back in 2008 a little known fighter was brought in to the UFC to be a feeder opponent to Brazilian prospect Andre Gusmao. What followed was a beating like no other. Jon Jones walked into the octagon, a little over 19, and absolutely destroyed Andre Gusmao, beating him from pillar to post in three rounds. What a lot of us didn’t know was that we were witnessing the birth of probably the greatest fighter in the world.
Jones continued his reign of dominance with beat downs of Stephan Bonnar, Brandon Vera, Vladimir Matyushenko and Jake O ‘Brien. The only blemish in that run was a loss to Matt Hamill in a fight in where one could describe the action as an assault. Jones is undefeated for all intents and purposes.
After his submission victory over Ryan Bader in 2011, Jones was given the opportunity to fight Mauricio Rua for the UFC light heavyweight championship. It wasn’t as much of a fight as it was a straight-up mugging. Rua had nothing, nothing for Jones. If I recall, he didn’t even land a single punch on Jon throughout their fight. By the third round, it was clear the Rua was getting smashed. Jones took Rua down and laid on him with more elbows and punches and then finally let the Brazilian up only to knock him down again with a knee to the body and end the fight. Thus, was born Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, the greatest fighter on the planet.
The sign of cracks
Fast forward to 2015 and things could not be more different. During that time Jon has gone from a beloved, young champion to Public Enemy no.1. Look, it’s not easy being a fighter, I understand and that level of savagery required to succeed at the highest levels of professional fighting is not something you or I will ever understand. There is a call to violence that fighters can just switch on. We may think we have it under control and that we can summon the will to kick some a**, any time, any day but we’re sadly mistaken. Fighters may look like us, sound like us but they are not us. They are very, very different people.
By now all of us know what’s happened, right? Ok, for the uninitiated, Jon Jones was involved in a hit and run accident on Sunday. Instead of helping out at the scene, he got out of the car and fled. He did double back to pick up some cash from the car and then disappeared into the wind. Later when authorities showed up at the scene, they also found a marijuana pipe and papers stating that the rental car was registered to Jon. Allegedly!
The car that he hit was driven by a pregnant woman who has suffered minor injuries but is more or less safe, and thank god for that. What this means is that, Jon Jones is now being charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanour, which could set him back with 3 years of jail time. Now, that’s some real serious stuff!
The unsocial savage
This isn’t a one-off thing, though. We need only to go back 25 to 30 years ago to the age of Mike Tyson to see what fame and fortune will do to a man. One can draw parallels to the trials and tribulations of Tyson. Here was a young man with limitless potential, scary confidence and the skill and power to back it all up. Tyson was crushing dudes…just crushing them. Leon Spinks, Marvis Frasier and Larry Holmes will tell you what it feels like to be on the other end of Tysons shots. But, there’s always a ‘but’, the fame and money just got to him. There is no other way to say it. The same madness of greatness that drove him to be the best was also his ultimate downfall.
Tyson publicly talked about his weakness for women. He talked about how they almost ran his world because they had a strange power over him. It was this weakness that led to rape charges levelled against him and subsequently faced prison time for his actions. You can’t be the best at one thing without having other parts of your life suffer. It’s just going to happen.
Now, looking at Jon Jones, one can see how similar their trajectories look. Jon is what Tyson was to the 80’s, a young, cocky and arrogant dominator. An undeniable destroyer of souls, except that in this case, he was also destroying his own soul. A hit and run, Cocaine in his system, rumours of wild partying, a DUI….I mean, how much longer can the UFC take it. The people have long turned against Jon and are now just all smiles watching Jones go through this madness. The UFC have been scrambling and finally stripped Jon of the belt and suspended him indefinitely, pending the results of the investigation.
I’m not here to argue whether what the UFC did was right or not. That’s not the point of this article. What I want to know is how will Jon come back from this? Will he learn? Can his fortitude and toughness carry him through this rough phase? Will his mind-set and ego of a world champion even going to allow him to accept defeat? These are the most pertinent questions right now. Everything else is a moot point.
Ladies and gentlemen, here is the greatest fighter in the world going through the craziest situation he’ll experience. All I’m saying is let’s give the law their space to work and then when all of the dust has settled, we can then finally speculate whether or not Jon Jones can truly rise up like a phoenix from the ashes to be the legend that he is destined to be or will his personal demons drag him back down again. Well, we can only wait and watch!