Jon Jones: Why It’s So Hard to Love the G.O.A.T.

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It’s been two weeks since Jon Jones returned to his throne atop the MMA world.

The living legend easily disposed of Ciryl Gane in dominant fashion, with a first-round submission to claim the UFC Heavyweight championship belt on March 4.

The greatest fighter of all time is back, but how long will he stick around this time? Rather, how long will he allow himself to remain the G.O.A.T. of the Octagon that his faithful fans deserve?

Jon Jones: Hard to Love

Jon Jones makes it hard to love Jon Jones.

“Bones” is undoubtedly great and equally despicable. Every time he fools folks into believing he has rediscovered himself and straightened out things in his life so he can be the unstoppable force everyone knows he can be, he finds a way to derail himself, further marring his twisted legacy.

Time and time again Jones has proven to be the star of the show in the cage, but he cannot avoid falling victim to the freakshow that is his personal life outside of the cage.

He is back on top now, but how long until Jon Jones pulls, well, a Jon Jones?

Jones’ Ugly Side

Like that time in 2012, when he crashed his Bentley into a utility pole in Binghamton, N.Y.,—injuring two female passengers—and was taken into custody for refusing a sobriety test. (He later plead guilty to a DUI and had his license revoked for six months.)

Or that time Jones was accused of writing homophobic slurs to a Swedish fan on Instagram weeks after besting Alexander Gustafsson. Jones claimed his phone was stolen and his account was hacked, but he has always been a good liar.

Like the time he lied to Fox Sports two weeks after he tested positive for cocaine prior to his win against Daniel Cormier in January 2015. Jones, who spent one night in rehab, was quoted denying that he was an addict “or even a frequent user.” He has since bragged about the amount of cocaine he did leading up to the fight, like it’s a badge of honor or another accolade for his resume.

This was all before Jones was involved in a hit-and-run that injured a pregnant woman.  And before he was flagged by the US Anti-Doping Agency in 2016 for what would eventually earn him a one-year ban.

Jones and Stardom

The only thing more impressive than his record in the Octagon is how he has managed to avoid any serious repercussions for his extensive record outside of the cage.

Jones is like an undoubtedly gifted child who keeps getting reinforced for bad behavior. Too talented for his own good and spoiled rotten from the time he became the youngest UFC champion at age 23.

Not everyone’s cut out for superstardom, and Jones has proven his ego is too great for his own greatness.

Deep down inside, Jones is probably a genuinely good person, like the guy he pretends to be at press conferences, a wise veteran who has learned from the troubles that have haunted him since knocking out Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. But his demons are too powerful to keep from resurfacing, too grand to keep from bursting to the surface where TMZ lurks.

Fight fans want nothing more than for the G.O.A.T. to stay on his current path, winning fights and quoting the Bible like a new, improved and rediscovered Jones. But one cannot fault those same fans for not buying into the façade. Why would they? Every time those faithful fans have fully bought back into “Bones,” they have been let down, like Charlie Brown every time he lines up for another crack at the football Lucy’s teed up.

That is not to say fight fans have to be haters of Jones or hoping for his downfall, but they also do not have to be stubborn enough to think this time will be different.

Jones said all the right things leading up to the Gane bout, but the glimmers of old Jones are already coming to light.

It does not take much for Jones to flip that switch, like that time he and Cormier were being interviewed by ESPN. Jones played the professional for the masses, only to immediately switch to “Evil Jon” as soon as he thought the camera was not rolling.

Even on Twitter, he is back to his troll ways. After appearing to attempt to mend his differences with Cormier by saying he was OK with DC commentating his title bout, Jones took a shot at DC’s immediate response to the submission against Gane. DC did not have the right angle to see the choke, but Jones claimed Cormier “couldn’t even pretend to smile” for him, questioning how a former champion and current analyst could not identify a guillotine.

When asked about Francis Ngannou, Jones simply called Ngannou a “p***y” who was afraid to fight. Classic Jones.

Fight fans want to believe in Jones so bad that they stick around in this unhealthy relationship of sorts. Sure, it’s a love like no other—Jones a once-in-a-generation fighter—but it’s too toxic to tolerate.

It’s time for that definitive breakup. One can be happy to see Jones succeed, wishing him the best from afar, knowing that he is the one who ruined something that could have truly been great.

But the clock keeps ticking.

How long will Jones stick around this time?

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Jonathan Andrade is a longtime sports reporter based in Southern California. A graduate of Cal State Northridge, Andrade was a full-time newspaper reporter in Ventura County for six years. While covering all sports throughout his career, Andrade gravitated to the storylines of MMA. Away from writing, Andrade enjoys time with his wife and son, and produces a YouTube channel all about reselling.

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