The rise and fall of Jon Jones

Devon Greene, Assistant Sports Editor

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We all like to believe in fairy tales and happy endings, and Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion Jon Jones almost achieved it.

Jon Jones’ professional UFC career has been rocky, to say the least. Jones is 6’4” and has the longest reach in UFC history at 84.5 inches. He began his fighting career in 2008 at 21 years old against Brad Bernard. Jones disposed of Bernard early with a first round knockout. He would go on to win his next eight fights, until he was disqualified in a fight against Mark Hamill in Dececember 2009. Jones has not lost another fight to this day.

He’s dominated the UFC to levels that have never been seen before. His fighting repertoire is more expansive than we’ve seen before, as he’s just as good on the ground as he is standing up. Only one man has come close to beating Jon Jones. Alexander Gustafsson gave Jones his toughest task and Jones squeaked out the win through decision. Not even the second-greatest light heavyweight fighter of all time could take down Jones.

With no one able to take him down, there’s only one question to ask, who can? Jon Jones. Jones has exhibited a self-destructive tendency his entire time in the UFC, with multiple suspensions for various reasons. His first suspension came in 2015 after he turned himself in to the police and faced a felony charge of hit and run. Jones became the first champion in UFC history to be stripped of his title due to disciplinary reasons. At this time, Jones lost his endorsement deals from Reebok and Nike.

Jones’ problems continued later on that year after his struggles with cocaine came to light. After defeating Daniel Cormier at UFC 182, Jones checked himself into a rehabilitation facility. He tested positive for cocaine in early December 2015, and fought on Jan. 3. Jones handed Cormier his first loss in the UFC and fans were itching for a rematch between the two-greatest light heavyweight fighters of all time.

Their wishes were granted as a rematch was scheduled for UFC 200. However, the dream turned into a nightmare in the blink of an eye for Cormier, who was looking to avenge his only career loss. Three days before the fight was scheduled to take place, Jones tested positive for a banned substance. Jones was interviewed after he tested positive for the substance.

“I want to show the world that you can be down but never out, I want to be a story where someone risked losing so much but ultimately turned everything around. A lot of times you hear these stories about athletes who ruined their career, and they go away and no one knows what happened to them or they’re bankrupt or they end up in jail,” Jones said. “They just ruined a great career. I want to be one of the few stories you hear where I was ruining things but ultimately turned things around and became a hero. That’s my vision for the way my story is going to play out.”

After that suspension, Jones seemed to turn things around. He tested clean for his next fight with Ovince Saint Preux, for his first fight back in over a year. Daniel Cormier was calling the fight and it was blatantly obvious that he was anxious to get his hands on Jones again. His wish would once again be answered as another fight was scheduled for UFC 214 on July 29, 2017. This time, the fight would actually take place.

In perhaps the biggest bout in UFC history, the tension was palpable between the two competitors. Years of back and forth trash talking and fighting at press conferences all lead up to their fight at UFC 214. Cormier was in the best shape of his career and looked more focused and locked in than any UFC fan had ever seen him before. Jones came out strong, taking the first round of the fight, but Cormier did not let up. He had awoken in round two, looking more comfortable and on the attack. Round three was the end of Cormier’s dream of defeating Jon Jones. In a creepy turn of events, Cormier predicted how he was going to lose to Jones in a press conference in 2014.

“I’ve got tendencies,” Cormier replied. “And I know what he’s talking about because they’re glaring… Don’t think you’re going to kick me in the head with your left leg. Do not think you’re going to kick me with the left foot in the head.”

That prediction is exactly how Jones became the first man to finish Cormier in the UFC. A swift head kick left Cormier dazed and Jones immediately smelt blood in the water and finished him off with brutal punches to the head.

A devastating moment for Cormier was the comeback story for Jones. In the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Jones reflected on how much this victory meant for him and his fans.

“I made it back man. Man, such a beautiful moment, I had to do a lot of right things to get back in this position. If anybody at home let yourself down, let your family down, let your peers down, your coworkers down, it’s never over. As long as you never quit, it’s never over. It feels unbelievable. It’s a surreal moment. I know it hasn’t been easy to root for me. 

On Aug. 22, the fairytale came tumbling down. The old, problematic Jon Jones was back. He tested positive for steroids on a July 28 drug test. In a tweet that has an unbelievable amount of irony now, Jones once again predicted the future.

“Daniel says the only reason I defeated him the first time is because I must have been on steroids, wonder what his excuse will be this time” Jones wrote.

Jones’ agent, Malki Kawa, went on The MMA Hour the day after to proclaim Jones’ innocence.

“He’s devastated and he’s hurt,” Kawa voiced. “This time he was being perfect and double-checking everything to [prevent] something like this from happening to him. It’s unbelievable, it’s unreal, and we’re all pretty much shocked. We’re all shocked and devastated.”

He went on to explain that he believes the sample to be tainted and they were going to the measure to get another one tested. Jones passed two random drug tests before the fight and he failed the scheduled drug test the UFC scheduled for him. Kawa was more than surprised that the scheduled test was the one he failed.

Jones’ future hangs in the balance of this test. The confidence of Jon Jones was back and he went as far as challenging UFC and WWE star Brock Lesnar to a superfight.

Now, he faces a 4-year suspension from the UFC. From possibly, the greatest UFC fighter ever, to a low point we’ve never seen anyone come back from. The disappointing story of Jon Jones continues to be written.

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