Op-Ed: Jon Jones Continues To Prove He Is Only A Champion On Paper

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The UFC’s Light heavyweight Champion Jon Jones has had a enticing story thus far in his career; the 27 year old from Rochester, New York has been within the arms of a brilliantly written tale– one that once he has a moment to look back upon it, would write itself into a fantastic autobiography. Similarly like the totally flawed, but in retrospect intriguing heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson’s autobiography, ‘Undisputed’.

In many ways Jones seems to be riding down the same unkempt path as the one Mike tells in his book. It is a raw account of his life, where he recalls his story with an utter need for recognition from the reader, but also with a need to be himself; the man who ran the streets of Brownsville.

Jon Jones

His sensitivity often pokes through his harsh language, while his recollection of significant people such as Cus D’Amato is heartbreaking and motivating. As the book continues, Tyson recounts the negative influences, demons and overall broken persona which threw him to wolves like Don King, drugs and self deprecation towards the end of his reign. The things which all have the hints of an extremely flawed, yet talented man.

Like Jones, his story may not (yet) be as colourful, but it is certainly finding its way down the same avenues. even if it just means his legacy is told differently because it has the makings of something that not many professional athletes can say they have experienced, as there is only a small space of room preserved for the ultimate and elite.

Regardless of ones thoughts of the Jones, you cannot by any means deny the numbers. I personally am not fond of measuring greatness solely on just numbers, but even outside of his value and statistics he has given the mixed martial arts world a myriad of reasons to understand that his talent is special. But, as an onlooker, it feels like we as fans are the only ones who see how precious his talents are. Of course as a fan it is very rare that we can understand the pressures, influences and overall lifestyle of famous athletes.

UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones

 

But Jones’ unfortunate antics are a blot on his otherwise respectable reputation as one of the best. Not only are these kinds of athletes looking to stay in contention for the ‘greatest’ column by continuing to out reach their opponents, but they are also under the scrutiny of their closest circles; including the most arduous of all, themselves.

Tyson’s brilliant acceleration to fame in Boxing at such a young age is given complete credit to Cus D’Amato, his ‘real father’ whom to this day he still adores. Jon in someways has this sort of desperation to impress in terms of his relationship with his Albuquerque coaches, Mike Winkeljohn and Greg Jackson.

“I work with coach Winkeljohn three times as much as I work with coach Jackson. Winkeljohn is the guy who’s putting in a lot of grunt work when it comes to me and my kickboxing. Wink’s all day every day hitting pads. He’s just a phenomenal athlete to do rounds all day with elite level fighters…Greg had been a tremendous influence on me. He’s been like a sports psychologist. He teaches me a lot of things about just being tough, the warrior spirit, pushing through” (via Bloody Elbow)

However, to be clear, this kind of pressure is no excuse for Jon Jones to use as his perfect explanation for his behaviour, including his cocaine use, but it is a factor we can never fathom. This is not, in anyway to condone or even justify Jones’ stupidity.

It is to say that Jones is sinking into the same cliche recipe which many other diminished athletes of his caliber have also fallen into–and he doesn’t do it well.

Jon Jones is a man who became the promotions youngest Champion at 23 and he may be crumbling from his burdens to continually stay the best, but it almost seems like his legacy will be more unfortunate than grand due to his own doing. His outstanding records in his division, his ability to overwhelm every opponent, (even if it’s by a mere inch) as well continue to grow is impressive– but why did we see the same likelihood with a man like Georges St Pierre, yet not the same outcome?

gsp

 

GSP may not have been the welterweight champion at such a young age, but his determination, focus and commitment (all words Jones constantly boasts himself of having) is exactly what helped Georges come to the rationalized decision that he needed to step away from the Octagon, when it counted most.

“It’s a lot of pressure. I’ve decided to take time off, I vacated my title for the respect of the other competitors. One day, when I feel like it, I might come back. But right now, I need a break”(Via Bloody Elbow)

Maybe Jones needs to take advice from the greats who have paved the way? Basically because with this tiny crack revealed in Georges strong demeanor, it proves humanity in the athlete despite the almost invincible portrayal in the spotlight.

We may soon find out these are the reasons Jones will want to use to vindicate his unwise and uncalled for decision making–seeing as Jones often likes to portray himself to be a clean and collected Christian or modest professional.

But, in simple terms, his words almost never meet his actions.

This is why with Jones, his demeanor has never been strong to me, he’s really just well rehearsed. The Light Heavyweight has always used his words before his demonstration, which is partly why I watch his fights. I am always dying to see if the New York native will do what he says and ‘dig deeper’ than his opponents to finally secure victory.

In many cases throughout 2014 and recently against Daniel Cormier, Jones had found the vital ingredient which propelled him past his “inferior” opponents threshold– this of course was not without some trips to the danger zone; but still proved his value as a champion within the Octagon.

Jon Jones Daniel Cormier

Yet now with a DUI scandal in 2011, a constant inconsistent attitude in the press regarding opponents (most certainly against Daniel Cormier), his challenge to want to impress fans by ultimately being ‘fake’ and now a cocaine/rehab fiasco, Jones is the perfect Champion for the books, but an absolute shame in terms of role modelling and respectability.

His attitude is what is most broken; for me Jones is completely unprepared (like many before him) to handle the unity between being an expert at his craft and also a presentable figure– this for me makes a true champion, although many fail at it and continue to claim historical success.

When the final bell rung on January 3rd in a fifth round clinch with Daniel Cormier, Jones couldn’t contain his true instinct of immaturity by wrapping up the fight with a ‘suck it’ gesture, although leading upto the fight he made huge efforts to contain a composed image.

Thus for me, Jon Jones may be a great because of his broken records, new heights and absolute domination, but he will always leave a bitter taste in many fans’ mouths.

Watch the exclusive interview on FOX Sports 1 Monday to see how his side of the story plays out.

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