If anyone follows the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Jon Jones should be a name that stands out.
You should recognise him for being one of the dominant light heavyweight champions of his generation. Some might remember Jones for being a dominate fighter who beat the likes of Alexander Gustafsson. Who beat Glover Teixiera, and who beat his arch rival Daniel Cormier, not once but twice. But there’s a catch, as dominant as he was innovative inside the octagon – Jones’ career has failed to live up to the heights.
Jones will forever be someone who should have achieved so much more. Only for bad choices to befell what should have been a glorious and illustrious career within the combat coliseum that is the UFC.
At UFC 214, in Anaheim this July Jones defeated his longstanding rival Cormier for a second time with a devastating third round TKO. In theory that victory should have cemented his legacy both inside the octagon and at the same time put to bed the demons that befell him outside of it. But it hasn’t.
There’s been yet another twist in Jones’ illustrious yet flawed career. The man has failed yet another drugs test, again for steroids. But this time for turinabol. It’s a huge body blow for Jones, and just as it looked like his career was on the way up it now looks as though the newly crowned light heavyweight champion could be stripped of the title, again. A title he only won on July 29 in devastating fashion.Embed from Getty Images
After many a setback and trials it looked as though the 30-year-old had stopped the rot and was finally ready to fulfill the tag of being one of the UFC’s most deadly champions, not that he had that tag already firmly associated with him previously despite his misdemeanours.
After all, prior to UFC 214 Jones spoke about his need to clean up his act after many a second chances. Speaking to Bleacher Report in the build up to his eagerly anticipated fight against Cormier, the two-time light heavyweight champion said: “I’m at a place where I realise that the fans don’t really care if you’re a good boy or a bad boy. They just want you to be responsible, you know? Hitting a pregnant women and taking off running is not responsible. Taking a dick pill is not being responsible.”
But for Jones and more importantly the fans, they needed confirmation that the Rochester, New York native was behind all his troubles and more importantly ‘responsible’ as he looked to make up for lost time inside the octagon. But, evidently Jones and his flirtation with responsibility lasted just a brief month or so.
It’s nothing new, sport has seen this all before
As we know, sport has a funny way of bringing up the unexpected. We’ve seen that in recent years, not only in the good sense but the bad sense too. Leicester City winning the Premier League against all odds was a prime example of how sport can throw up a good natured sporting miracle.
But sport has also seen many a talented stars come on the scene only to throw all their potential away because of some grave mistakes, and now Jones can join that list of exhaustive stars.
For someone as gifted as he was inside the Octagon, the man should have been an all conquering champion for a lot longer. But it seems he can’t help himself from the headlines. But instead of those headlines where we laud and praise him, it seems he prefers the headlines where people castigate and question what an earth is going on in his head.
I genuinely think that the majority of the MMA community thought he was ready to forget the past and forge a new career of suchs, away from temptation and recriminations, but that’s not to be the case.
For all involved, the UFC 214 victory was one of those warm stories of sporting redemption after a rocky period which threatened to curtail a career filled with potential and promise. In Anahiem, Jones came back and conquered and it looked as though his career was finally going to be heading down the right path.
In the aftermath there was even talk of the 30-year-old being one of the ‘Greatest of all time’. But now that ‘GOAT’ talk is tainted. It’s tainted as Jones has once again seemingly sabotaged his second chance he so desperately begged for.
Jones’ just can’t seem to put the demons to bed
I did wonder whether this would be the last we heard of Jones in the negative headlines, but I feel the general consensus from people in and around the MMA community was that Jones couldn’t surely mess up again.
It’s becoming a regular occurrence for Jones now, let’s not forget prior to his proposed second fight against Cormier at UFC 200, the 30-year-old was flagged by USADA for steroids. The substance in question this time is another form of anabolic steroid – it seems the man can’t keep away from the stuff.
As with all these potential doping violations, Jones is allowed due course as the authorities test B samples etc, but for the Jones fans around the world this is just another sad sub-plot in a career which has been littered with bad mistakes.
But, Jones is not alone. Sport has been littered with stars which have failed to reach their full potential, and sadly for Jones, despite all his previous dominant victories he does fall into that category. Stars with immense talent have come along and shown flashes of genius and shown that they could have been genuine superstars, only to throw it down the proverbial kitchen sink because of poor choices they’ve made.
What’s next for Jones’ career
The last time Jones’ made a hasty decision, many people thought that might have been the end – that was two years ago, and his ban was for a first time offender. This time the 30-year-old could be looking at a whole lot longer on the sidelines.
As a repeat offender he could be looking at anything from 2-4 years, that’s if he is found guilty again. The big question will now be ‘if’ Jones returns something which remains to be seen, the UFC boat might have sailed. Too many times has Dana White and the UFC waited for one of their prized assets only for him to throw it back in their faces.
The light heavyweight division might have moved on if Jones gets the maximum ban. Of course these are all questions for later down the line, but for Jones this latest episode has a serious bearing on whether he will step into a UFC Octagon again.
In a way you can’t help but feel sorry for the man, a month after winning the title again he’s been thrown a curveball. But then on the other hand how many chances does he deserve before he finally gets the message.
But this story comes down to one deciding factor: Jones could have reached the glittering heights UFC has to offer, but too many times his moral compass has gone awol, leaving the fans with a sorry and bitter taste of what might have been.
Image credits – Getty Images – Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC & Sean M. Haffey