Sports

Jon Jones: The Once and Maybe Future King

To say that the last week has been life altering for Jon Jones would be an understatement. We all know the story by now, but the chain of events profoundly illustrates the domino effect of Jones’ downfall.

Jones surrendered to Albuquerque, New Mexico, police on Monday after a warrant was issued for his arrest on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Jones allegedly was involved in a hit-and-run accident on Sunday morning, which sent a pregnant woman to the hospital with a broken arm.

Jones fled the scene on foot, ran back to his vehicle, retrieved a handful of money, fled the scene again, and scaled a fence into a gated community where he made his escape. Police found a pipe containing marijuana in his vehicle.

After meeting with Jon Jones and his lawyer on Tuesday, Dana White announced that Jones has been stripped of the UFC light heavyweight title and has been suspended indefinitely by the promotion. Daniel Cormier will step in to fight Anthony Johnson for the vacant championship on May 23rd at UFC 187.

On Wednesday, Reebok announced they have dropped Jones as a sponsored athlete, rescinding his financial endorsement deal that had a heavy financial upside. Things didn’t get better on Thursday, as the fitness supplement company, MuscleTech also severed ties with the embattled star.

There are those who saw this coming a mile away due to Jones’ confirmed and unconfirmed, off the record behavior over the last four years. Anyone whose pockets are about to get lighter as a result of Jones’ recent transgressions looked the other way too often and said yes more than they should have.

UFC deserves a lot of credit for making a hard business decision that will cost them in the short term. The big question is though, will this work? Is this the wakeup call that Jones needs in order to see the error of his ways? Right now, it’s abundantly clear that Jones’ can’t handle the fame that comes with being a superstar athlete.

When strictly considering the realm of athletics, it’s a shame that morality outside of the cage dictates what happens within its confines. However, in 2015, the public is tired of celebrities getting an increased benefit of a very large doubt. The fact that Jones’(who is a millionaire) first instinct was to secure his cash paints an ugly portrait of his personality.

Jones was never beaten for the title and critics will look at the Cormier vs. Johnson winner as a hollow champion. I disagree with that notion. Yes, Cormier has already fallen to Jones, but he was already in training camp preparing for his previously scheduled June 6 bout with Ryan Bader.

If Daniel Cormier wins the title, he is the rightful and deserved heir because, up to this point, he has acted and conducted himself in a manner becoming of a world championship athlete. This is the opposite of Jones, who’s conducted prompted journalists, pundits, and fans to call for the removal of his title.

If Anthony Johnson wins the title, he also deserves full recognition from the sport and its contemporaries. Jones has never fought Johnson, and while “Bones” would be the favorite, the vicious KO power and overall skill that “Rumble” brings to the table gives him a better chance than most.

Plus, he’s come back what from appeared to be a never ending fall after being cut form the UFC three years ago, something everyone should hope that Jones can accomplish.

If I’m paying $59.99 to watch a premium combat sports product, I want the fighters involved to be as prepared as possible so we can see their best on fight night. Jones’ current legal troubles compounded by his alleged drug use suggests that training for a professional prize fight was the least of his concerns.

While it’s easy for anyone to sit on the outside and provide commentary on such matters, let’s try to look at things from the other side. Jon Jones is heralded as the best fighter on the planet and there is a lot of pressure that comes with that.

However, Jones has the added distinction of being pegged as quite possibly, the GOAT. We’re talking about some exclusive company with the likes of Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Wayne Gretzky, and Babe Ruth. The pressure that comes with that is beyond compare and something LeBron James is familiar with.

There can be a plethora of punishments implemented to deter criminal behavior. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how badly Jon Jones wants things to change. Right now though, Jones needs to forget about the spotlight and just do him because the fighter can’t exist without the person being well.

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Atlee Greene

Atlee Greene is a contributor to Camel Clutch Blog and host of The Bodyslam Podcast. His other work can be found at Gerweck.net, ForcesofGeek.com, Whatculture.com and his own personal blog. He can be found on Twitter @AtleeGreene

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