Jon Jones is the biggest case of self-implosion (in combat sports) since Mike Tyson. They're eerily similar in a sense that both these fighters possessed God-given talent like no other and were poised to go down as the greatest of all-time.
Jones may even be a better example of this notion as throughout all the mayhem, he had still never been beaten. In Tyson's case, one could argue that he had never really been tested as the Heavyweight division's peek had already passed, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis were also waiting in the wings with closed fists. With the exception of Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, Jones had already cleaned out the Light Heavyweight division and was about to do it for a second time over.
The only thing that could possibly stop Jon Jones - himself.
His personal life has just been a blunder of disastrous and self-imposed incidents that have effectively derailed his career.
At the UFC 200 press conference, Jones came out to a thunderous ovation for being three months sober. Daniel Cormier asserted that Jones has screwed up his whole life and will continue to screw up, and did not understand why he was getting such an ovation due to the fact that he had been sober for his entire life.
Cormier was then met with a chorus of boos...looks like he was onto something though.
15 Pulling Out Of UFC 151
This may seem like a minor detail, but it was also the moment where people started to look at Jon Jones in a negative light, including the bosses. Although Jones wasn't wrong in this instance, it was just one of those "line in the sand" moments where everything seemed to spiral out of control in the ensuing years.
Jones was slated to fight Dan Henderson in the main event of UFC 151 in Las Vegas. Two weeks prior to the event, Hendo pulled out of the fight due to a knee injury and everyone's favorite "gangster" Chael Sonnen stepped in as a last-minute replacement to get slaughtered by Jones, and save the event.
Jones refused the matchup, and the event was subsequently cancelled. Dana White lambasted Jones and his trainer Greg Jackson, even labeling Jackson as a "sport killer." Jones admitted after this incident that his relationship with the UFC would never be the same.
14 Ditching Rashad Evans
Jon Jones and Rashad Evans openly considered themselves brothers. Evans basically mentored Jones at Jackson's MMA and they had a pact never to fight each other.
The two of them reached an impasse when Evans was slated to face "Shogun" Rua for the championship, but was replaced by Jones when he suffered a knee injury. Evans knew Jones would "smash Rua" (his words), and was planning to change weight classes and pursue another title to honor their pact. Jones was having none of this and said on air that he had no issues fighting Evans.
This debacle kind of demonstrated Jones' true colors, when you consider that a lot of people at Jackson's MMA weren't interested in having Jones join the team, but Evans welcomed him with open arms and showed him the ropes.
13 Very Fake
He was always so incredibly fake, that it was laughable.
He'd preach clean living and that he was the perfect role model for kids growing up. The cherry on top is that he'd talk in an incredibly soft voice and maintain that he doesn't use curse words. Sometimes he'd even actually spell out the word, so he wouldn't actually say it, and then be sure to point out that: "he does NOT use curse words."
Jon Jones and Rashad Evans did end up fighting each other, and it was one of the biggest grudge matches in UFC history (the fight was actually terrible though, as Jones decimated him). But in an on air interview between the two of them, Evans called Jones out on his "fakeness" and asserted that it will all catch up to him some day: "you will fall," were his exact words.
If anyone could have saw this demise coming, it would be Evans who was obviously one of his closest friends.
12 He Got Busted Being Fake On Live TV
*This video is NSFW!
The most concrete example of Jon Jones' fake demeanor came after the infamous brawl between him and Daniel Cormier in the MGM Grand lobby.
Following the melee, ESPN's Todd Grisham interviewed both Jones and Cormier via satellite, and Jones went into full blown phony mode: "First of all, I'd like to give an apology to the MGM Grand, and all the fans, all the kids, who saw that; definitely not proud of what happened today." He capped off the interview by saying: "thank you so much for having us" and added a huge nauseating smile as icing on the cake, as if he was really thankful that ESPN would give him an opportunity to explain the brawl.
What transpired next was unprecedented and truly exposed Jones. He had thought that the cameras had stopped rolling and that they were off the air. We'd give you the transcript of what was said...
but why do that when we can give you the video?!
11 The Actual Brawl
On one hand, the brawl that took place at the UFC 178 media day was freaking awesome. Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier posed for a stare down, and Jones put his forehead against Cormier's and pushed him forward. Cormier took exception to this and shoved him away by his neck, before mayhem ensued. The brawl generated interest in their actual contest because there's something compelling about two people fighting that actually despise each other. There's also an attraction to an impromptu fight, or in Layman's terms; a spur of the moment fight, when there's not supposed to be a fight.
On the other hand, it was an extremely ugly incident and gave MMA a black eye. These two professional fighters were actually brawling in a lobby as guests were at the check in counter. Bystanders also could have gotten injured during this whole fiasco as we saw Dave Sholler (VP of Public Relations for the UFC) go flying across the room when he attempted to intervene. Cormier actually took his shoe off and attempted to whip it at Jones as the two were being pulled apart...the shoe ended up hitting a cameraman. Yeah, kind of embarrassing for everyone involved and another black mark for Jones.
10 Talking Down To Daniel Cormier
So we've spent the past two entries talking about the bitter rivalry between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, but how did this feud all start?
Their hatred commenced way back in 2010, backstage at UFC 121. Cormier's teammate, Cain Velasquez was slated to fight Brock Lesnar for the Heavyweight Championship. Cormier was there as one of Velasquez's corner men and hadn't even fought in the UFC up until this point, as he was simply a wrestling partner/coach. Jones made a beeline to Cormier, having recognized him as an Olympian and introduced himself by saying: "You wrestle? I bet I could take you down."
Jones claims that he was trying to make a new friendship. Cormier was obviously offended by this unconventional way of trying to make friends.
Had Jones been more considerate and simply nicer to people, perhaps they wouldn't be so eager to "pile on" now that he's facing tough times.
9 Crashing The Bentley
The crashing of his $200,000 vehicle in 2012 was Jon Jones' first notable incident with the law. He ran his car into a utility pole and then politely declined to take a sobriety test from the police officers that arrived on the scene (at least he was polite about it). He later pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and faced a "slap on the wrist" punishment of being forced to attend an alcohol-awareness program and had his license suspended for six months.
He really got off lucky here, considering that a six month suspension for driving under the influence is an extremely lenient punishment and more importantly that he didn't severely injure himself...or the two hot girls that he had in the back seat.
8 Testing Positive Before UFC 182
Jon Jones tested positive for cocaine in an out of competition drug test, prior to his fight with Daniel Cormier at UFC 182. Cocaine isn't actually considered a performance enhancer (it's actually a performance deterrent), thus the fight was allowed to proceed.
"It's a really embarrassing situation. I had to explain to so many people I'm not a cocaine addict by any means, not even a frequent user. I just made a really dumb decision and really got caught with my pants down with this whole situation."
Jones may actually be telling the truth, that he is not a "coke head." He has openly admitted that alcohol was his vice. But how many dumb decisions can he possibly make before it's borderline self-sabotage?
The answer to that question is the sad part, as it gets way worse.
Jon Jones openly admitted that he was a party animal and that he was boozing four times a week, even during a training camp. Alcohol is the common denominator is most of these incidents (and a more major one to be named later).
The only fighter to this day that has ever pushed Jones to the brink was Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165. Some pundits even had the Swede winning the fight by a narrow decision, but the judges had it all in favor of Jones (this lowly writer did as well). Jones also admitted that his partying/drinking ways were at their all time peek during the training camp for Gustafsson: "I had a lot of fun that camp."
The biggest issue was that he learned absolutely nothing from that razor sharp decision, where he showed up out of shape. He figured if he was invincible if he could show up and still beat the #1 Contender when he was in the worst shape of his career: "I really developed the attitude of, 'I can have fun and still do my job."
6 He Got Away With It
Jon Jones was still the baddest man on the planet, despite his reckless behavior. He was/is just so ridiculously gifted that he'd get away with it. As he pointed out, it just enabled his bad habits even further.
Think about it, if you're in high school and getting straight A's with hardly any studying, why would you bother?
There were really very little consequences for his actions. When he scrapped his Bentley, he received a slap on the wrist and was back on the road within six months and got himself into way deeper trouble. Whether he got busted for cocaine before the Daniel Cormier fight, or partying like Charlie Sheen during training camp for the Gustafsson fight, the result was always another '1' in the win column.
5 Hit And Run
This fiasco had the potential to be so much worse and thankfully nobody got seriously injured. Jon Jones was driving in the wee hours of the morning and ran a red light and crashed his car into another vehicle driven by a pregnant woman, who ended up breaking her arm due to the impact.
Jones claims that he was partying the night before and decided to crash at a friends house, but was still very tired and groggy when he took the wheel the next morning. Once again, the common denominators are partying/boozing and driving.
The worst part of this is that Jones did not stick around, as he high-tailed it out of there. Some witnesses even claim that he ran back to his car to grab cash and then proceeded to run away again.
He only received an 18-month probation for this and managed to avoid any jail time.
4 Testing Positive For Estrogen Blockers Before UFC 200
UFC 200 was slated to be the highest grossing Pay-Per-View of all time. The stage was set for Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier to lock horns in one of the most highly anticipated rematches of all time... until Jones got flagged for a banned substance (which was later confirmed as estrogen blockers) and was removed from the card.
This was billed as a success story, as Jones had seemingly kicked his bad habits to the curb. The fans even got behind him in the buildup for this one and then got the rug pulled from beneath them.
It seems as though Jones is going to actually suffer severe consequences for this one as USADA generally suspends fighters for two years when violating their policies.
Jon Jones has been very open about the fact that he wants to go down as the greatest of all-time and that his legacy is very important to him. While he's managed to achieve incredible things despite all the sell-imposed setbacks, it's starting to catch up with him.
After the hit and run, the UFC gave Jones a "timeout" and sent him to rehab, resulting in him only fighting once in a year. If all goes as planned and USADA suspends him, he's looking at two full years of inactivity on top of the fact that he's only fought once this year.
There is no doubt that Jones was on pace to go down as the greatest of all-time. Sorry to break it to all the Anderson Silva adorers. He cleaned out an entire division and was about to do it a second time over. Jones holds wins over four former World Champions and a win over the current champion, Daniel Cormier. But his legacy will certainly come into question now with a potentially lengthy period of inactivity.
2 Malki Kawa
It's not that Malki Kawa is a bad manager. He is incredibly sought after and manages many other UFC fighters including Frank Mir, Alistair Overeem, and Carlos Condit, just to name a few. However, he is not good for Jon Jones.
A cage fighter's job is to do exactly that, fight in a cage. A manager's job is to direct a fighter into making the right decisions and, most of all, staying out of trouble. During Jones and Kawa's tenure, he has done the exact opposite as Jones can't seem to stay out of trouble. There have been certain instances where Kawa does not help the situation at all, and even amplifies it. Before their first tilt, Jones and his team and Cormier and his team happened to cross paths with each other (there's a video of it) at the MGM Grand, and they proceeded to shout insults at each other. Rather than pull Jones away from such shenanigans, you can visibly see Malki front and center, just egging the situation on.
He also did not prepare Jones at all for their own press conference that they called the day after Jones got removed from UFC 200. Jones ended up coming off as even more incriminating as he claimed the he hadn't used any new supplements, but then contradicted that statement a minute later by admitting that he had tried out some new supplements (but wouldn't specify what). He also claimed that he'd never take anything to enhance his performance. That is an outright lie as any supplement (even something as simple as protein powder) is designed to aid performance. Why would anyone take something that would make them worse?
1 He Never Owns Up
It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that all of Jones' misfortunes are self-inflicted; the guy is a walking catastrophe.
But there's something very unsettling when he speaks. He was certainly apologetic and you could tell that he genuinely felt bad that he somewhat ruined UFC 200 (also ruined a huge payday for himself). But he kept citing that it was hard to see the positives in this, but that he was confident that God had a plan for him and that he needed to keep his spirits up.
As Chael Sonnen maintained on his podcast, Jones simply refuses to take ownership for any of his actions and acts as though he's the victim and that he's been dealt bad luck, when in reality he has brought all this on himself. It's also troublesome because if he maintains this warped outlook, his self-sabotaging behavior will likely reoccur in the near future.
Hopefully he can shape up, because he is one hell of a fighter.