So it’s in the books. After months and months of waiting, MMA fans worldwide were finally treated to a classic main event between Jon Jones and undefeated former Olympian Daniel Cormier; or should I say formerly undefeated?
In the most bitter rivalry of Bones’ career, there was a lot of trash talk, a brawl at a press conference, death threats and much more that went on between the pair. Ultimately though, after five hard rounds, Jon Jones secured yet another victory in dominant fashion.
Rounds 1-3 were all close, with Jones taking 2-1 by my count. Then came round four; which DC had only ever seen once before in his career. It was the turning point, and while Jones was used to fighting for this length of time, Cormier withered under the pressure and for the first time in his MMA career was taken down at will by the imposing Jones. To finish off the fight Jones started celebrating, causing Cormier to think that the match was over, but then Jones hit Cormier with a sucker punch and it seemed like this rivalry was far from over. Jones won the fight by unanimous decision, winning on all three judges’ scorecards 49-46.
But all the real controversy happened after the fight. Cormier was shown in an emotional mood, hugging training partner Cain Velasquez, as you can see below. In a vast contrast in emotions, Jones was seen doing more trash talk than ever before, berating any fans who had bought DC’s shirt which has “Break Bones” written on it.
During the lead up to the fight, Jones had emanated a cool, calm persona on camera; off camera however was a different story. As you can see in the following videos, which was captured during a conference call the two fighters had on ESPN, Jones showed a Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde set of personalities. Take a look and see what you think of the current UFC light heavyweight champion.
The two sides that you see between Jon Jones’ personality are amazing. He goes from a kind, even some would say friendly professional in the first video, to a completely different person in the second clip. This has been an evolution of the champion though. Jones won the championship back in 2011 as a fresh faced youngster and right there, he was the new poster boy for the UFC – youngest champion ever. Not only does he have that accolade, but he has been a dominant champion on top of that; with five finishes to nine opponents in a title match, and four of those five being former champions.
There is no doubt in my mind that Jon Jones is the best fighter on the planet right now. He is incredibly well rounded, with a strong wrestling and BJJ game to contrast his creative striking that is always dangerous. He has the potential to surpass Georges St Pierre and even Anderson Silva on the all time pound for pound rankings.
But there is a darker side to Jon that few of us realised. Yesterday it was announced that Jones had entered rehab for a substance abuse problem he has been dealing with. In a pre-fight test conducted by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Jones tested positive for benzoylecgonine, also known as the primary metabolite in cocaine. The UFC and Jones’ sponsors have all stood by the champion while he goes through this tough time, but the question is – should they?
Many a fighter has been dealt a rough deal with their use of drugs, mainly marijuana. Fighters such as Nick Diaz and Pat Healy have seen wins turned to no contests, while Matt Riddle was fired from the UFC for repeated offences. So why is cocaine not as harshly treated as marijuana? Marijuana use in the UFC has become more relaxed recently, with the rules being calmed to an extent, but with cocaine being a class A drug there must be questions raised about why Jon isn’t being penalised by his bosses. On top of a DUI a few years ago, this is the second time substances have got Jones into a bit of trouble and looking objectively other champions do not seem to have this problem.
There are a few reasons Jones hasn’t seen a sponsor drop him or seen his win revoked or his title taken away. The first reason is that because this random drug test happened on December 4th, Jones would have not had cocaine in his system for his fight with DC. What was found in the drug test was trace amounts, an incredibly small amount in fact, which meant that Jones would have had to have taken cocaine a few days beforehand (cocaine leaves your system entirely after a maximum of four days), and that would not have affected his performance in the Octagon. On top of random testing, fighters are required to take part in a drug test both pre and post fight. Jones passed both of these, thus meaning that the cocaine use had not been continued into fight week. In terms of why a punishment wasn’t handed out, cocaine is not a banned substance according to NSAC’s rulebook.
Either way, throughout the history of the UFC, there have been bad boys and people much worse than Jones competing for the company; guys like Lee Murray and Jeremy Jackson. However, Jones has seemingly taken on somewhat of a heel persona in the UFC and has embraced being the bad guy in his fights now. His post fight interview was reminiscent of Brock Lesnar’s circa UFC 100 after his demolition of Frank Mir. While Lesnar was using tactics from his WWE days, I’m not so sure about Jones. He seems to be a different character off camera than on.
With that being said, anyone who has a substance abuse problem should seek professional help, and that is what Jones has done. Good luck to him in his rehab.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Jon Jones should be stripped of his win and his title? Are UFC right to stand by him? Let me know in the comments.