Jon Jones could’ve been one of the greatest practitioners in the history of the sport, but he will probably be known as one of the biggest waste of talent in any sport.
The former UFC Light Heavyweight champion was scheduled to get a chance to reclaim the title he was stripped of following the infamous hit-and-run incident in 2014, but his bout with Daniel Cormier was canceled after it was reported that he tested positive for a banned substance. This isn’t the first time that the 28-year-old tested positive during an out-of-competition test, as he was flagged for cocaine metabolites prior to the original Jones/Cormier fight in 2014. Add that to his laundry list of legal problems including the previously mentioned hit-and-run, DUI arrest in 2012, a probation violation that resulted from a traffic incident earlier this year, and he was also cited for speeding and driving without a license the month prior.
The ability that “Bones” Jones brings to the octagon is tremendous, but his future in the sport certainly appears to be in jeopardy. With a record of 22-1, (his only loss on a technicality from a DQ for elbows) Jones proved to be one of the most talented and dominate competitors in UFC history. His combination of physical skill, striking, and grappling ability gave him the potential to become a legend in the sport, but he’s done much damage to tarnish his legacy outside of the cage. The humble 23-year-old that defeated Shogun Rua in 2011 to become the youngest champion in the company’s history became an elitist that thought the rules don’t apply to him in the past five years. The arrogant champion using slurs towards fans on social media and his public brawl with Cormier during a press event to promote their initial contest hasn’t garnered him much fan support in the past few years. In fact, the argument could be made that one of the reasons that Brock Lesnar was added to the card was to generate hype for the event since Jones isn’t one of the more popular champions among fans, despite being one of the most dominant fighters on the roster.
As of this writing, Jon Jones hasn’t commented on the subject and it should be noted that he can request for the “B sample” to get tested to possibly refute the positive results. If Jones is still found to have tested positive after this process, he could be banned for the sport for two years. Despite the championships and wins on his record, it might be time for the UFC to release Jon Jones. How many times is “Bones” going to bring negative press to the company? How many chances is he going to get to redeem himself when he continuously makes the same terrible decisions?
Aside from putting the UFC in the tough spot of reshuffling the card, in many ways, Jon Jones has tainted the biggest event in the history of the promotion. The discussion prior to the event won’t be about the stacked card for the pay-per-view, but rather speculation about Jones’ status as a fighter. During the main event, when Brock Lesnar competes in mixed martial arts for the first time in nearly five years, it will be noted that Jon Jones was supposed to fight in the main event. Even after what should be a spectacular fight card, you can bet that questions will be asked about Jon Jones at the post-fight press conference.
In my opinion, Jon Jones shouldn’t be anywhere near the octagon and he has more serious problems to deal with than his opponents in MMA. The continuous downward spiral of his career is extremely disappointing and it’s a complete waste of talent. Quite simply, Jones shouldn’t fight again until he can act like a professional inside and outside of the cage because this type of path has been taken by many athletes before. There’s no upside to the direction that “Bones” is going and he should step away from the sport to avoid any chance of a tragedy. If/when Jones finally decides to make the right decisions, a return to MMA might be possible, but at this point, it’s tough to give him the benefit of the doubt.
As an organization, why should Zuffa continue to promote Jon Jones? He has brought the company negative press and he ruined the main event of their biggest event. At some point, his value as a fighter won’t justify the hassle of the problems he caused. Hypothetically, if Jones fought in Bellator he wouldn’t have the same stage and it probably wouldn’t really affect the UFC.
The bottom line is Jon Jones has the ability to become a legend, but he continues to make unwise decisions. He could’ve been mentioned aside names like Fedor, Liddel, Couture, Silva, GSP etc. but he might become known as another cautionary tale in sports. As I’d written when Jones had problems earlier this year, the quote from the classic film, “A Bronx Tale” could summarize the situation, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” Who knows where Jon Jones goes from here, but it will be interesting to see if he gets released from the UFC.
Until next week