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Looking at what’s next for Jon Jones




“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent,” a memorable line from the 1993 film, “A Bronx’s Tale” was delivered by Robert DeNiro, playing the role of the father of a rambunctious youth, as he advises his son that one mistake can be a turning point. This past Tuesday, the decision in a New Mexico court room could be a turning point for Jon Jones, as he avoided potential jail time in exchange for a plea bargain and if he adheres to the terms of the deal, will also avoid a felony on his record. Obviously, Jones has the money to get himself a top-notch legal team, which was probably the key to him staying out of jail and presumably getting back toward reestablishing his career.

However, the hit and run incident this past April was only the most serious, not the most recent in a string of controversies that have surrounded the young prodigy since he captured the UFC Light Heavyweight title in 2011. The traffic case that landed the former 205 LBS champion in court alleges that Jones ran a red light and hit another car, which injured a pregnant motorist. She suffered a broken wrist, but thankfully, the pregnancy was unharmed. Jones fled the scene before returning to his car to grab cash and then fled again, which an off duty police officer witnessed, allowing him to identify Jones as the suspect. Documentation identifying Jones and drug paraphernalia were found in the car, which prompted a warrant to be issued for him. Eventually, Jones turned himself into police and was subsequently stripped of the UFC Light Heavyweight title as well as dropped from sponsorship deals.

As I said, the car accident was only the most serious, not the most recent incident for the talented fighter. Less than a month after successfully defending the title against Rashad Evans in 2012, Jones crashed into a pole and was arrested for DUI. Just a few months later, an injury forced Dan Henderson to withdraw from a scheduled title fight and Chael Sonnen was chosen as a last-minute replacement, but Jones declined the fight, which prompted the event to be cancelled. It’s certainly ironic that Jones declined the fight when it was former champion, Shogun Rua accepting to fight Jones as a late minute replacement that gave him the title shot that led to him winning the championship. “Bones” Jones continued to defend the belt and it seems as though he developed a brash attitude as his accomplishments accumulated. In 2014, he made headlines again when screen shots of an Instagram post surfaced that showed Jones using offensive slurs towards fans, but he claimed his account was hacked. Later that year, during the promotional tour for UFC 178, Jones was involved in a brawl with challenger Daniel Cormier and it resulted in a fine from the Nevada State Athletic commission.

Following a successful title defense against Corimer earlier this year, it was announced that Jones tested positive for cocaine during an out of competition test. Since he only failed the out of competition test, there was nothing to prevent him from fighting at UFC 182 and it makes the entire out of competition test seem pointless, but the UFC fined him $25,000 for violating the fighter conduct policy. After the failed test, Jones went to rehab and left the next day so it seems doubtful he got any real help there.

Obviously, there’s a pattern here and it seems clear that Jon Jones is a classic case of fame inflating his ego. The once humble prospect has been replaced by an arrogant narcissist that assumes the rules don’t apply to him. Jon Jones, the fighter that chased down a purse thief just hours before fighting for the Light Heavyweight title in 2011, fled the scene of an accident that injured someone in 2015. However, before the laundry list of legal problems and the series of events that soured many fans on him, “Bones” was considered by many to be potentially the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world and the heir to the throne as the UFC’s next top star, previously held by former Middleweight champion, Anderson Silva. Ultimately, that’s the most disappointing aspect of the whole situation, Jon Jones is without question one of the most talented fighters in the history of the sport and instead of proving his dominance as a fighter and setting records, he’s spending some of the prime of his career in a court room because of his own dumb decisions. At 21-1, his only loss a DQ on a technicality from elbow strikes, Jones has the ability to build a legacy, but at this point, it could be argued that his mishaps outside of the cage have somewhat overshadowed his accomplishments in the sport.

Hopefully, Jon Jones takes the court decision as an opportunity and he puts his athletic ability toward his career as a martial artist because he certainly has the skills to become a legend in the sport. It would be extremely disappointing if Jones doesn’t realize the opportunity he has in mixed martial arts because the saddest thing in life really is wasted talent.

-Jim LaMotta


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