(This post originally appeared in James Hammonds blog, TheMMAFiesta.com, reprinted here with his permission. Give him a click!)
The rather concerning tale of Mr Jonathan Dwight Jones continues; this week he has expressed his desire to move up weight and challenge Miocic for the heavyweight title. Given everything which has occurred (and what is still occurring), we are forced again to question where young Jonathan’s head is? Let us not forget, he has spent his twenties as a star of this sport, and it seems he has dealt with that pressure in unusual ways.
I must argue that as fans we should not have a problem with fighters having a troubled side. Most folks do. And these are people who cope with unparalleled pressure in the most precarious sport on the planet – to deal with that you’ve got to have a little darkness in your ‘bones’. But what makes the Jon Jones case more worrying is that there seems to be more psychological concerns.
A friend of mine raised the point that Jones displays a propensity for sociopathic behaviour. I found this interesting to consider, but I also found it way too harsh. I don’t think Jon is a horrible person. I don’t think Jon is a sociopath. But I do think there are enough repetitive actions to give some therapists a headache; he went from playing the gentle saint to getting in trouble with the law numerous times for various offences. He has publicly told multiple lies. And he has been caught committing various offences whilst either under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Add some rather unconvincing apologies and a penchant for self-pity, and we have an intriguing psychological portrait.
Whilst we shouldn’t pry into the personal lives of anyone, no matter how famous, this stuff is public knowledge and required no digging on my behalf. It is all there to contemplate. So with everything considered, it sets up the important topic of whether or not Jon Jones deserves an immediate title shot, or any other favourable fight.
Judging by the latest news, it seems his recent trouble will not result in the multiple year suspension we all predicted. Perhaps he is only guilty of wanting to sustain an erection. That could very well be the case. Such a silly act is not unethical, but the extent of this particular crime is not the only issue; it serves that in common life meritocracy should always prevail, but ‘merit’ is determined by more than just athletic ability. ‘Merit’ is also determined by who you are as a person. It makes no sense that a person messing up and causing hassle for other people should get opportunities not afforded to others simply because he is the ‘best’. That’s just wrong. Especially in MMA. A sport where opportunities are already so limited, and with only one title to contend for in each particular division.
The ethics of the UFC are at times a tad questionable. Such is the case with many business enterprises. And this is more than a sporting problem – it is an ethical one. For sport at its heart is human. That’s why we care. It’s a terribly bad look for them to immediately throw Jon Jones a title or shot or another favourable fight. They should not reinforce the idea that we give the guilty person a little slap on the hand, then let them return to their former position simply because they’re the ‘best’. No. In MMA that is highly unhealthy. Where is the lesson in that?
If I were caught doing some of the actions Jones has done, I would be kicked out of university without debate. And I wouldn’t get back in. As things stand, he’s outstandingly fortunate to cling on to the ‘interim’ light-heavyweight belt. Outstandingly fortunate. It doesn’t border on Nonsense, it crosses the border and makes its way into the heartland of Nonsense. The only thing that goes deeper into that land is him returning and getting an immediate title shot. In any division. Never mind a division he has not competed in which has an arsenal of viable contenders putting their health on the line daily.
Perhaps my language suggests I believe Jon Jones should have to start from the bottom. That is definitely not what I am trying to express. Mistakes are part of human life. Lord knows I’ve made enough of them. We all have. And those mistakes do not completely disregard or destroy your abilities or past achievements, but they do set us back a few steps. They allow more deserving people to move past you, at least for the time being. And that is what should happen here. Well, in a perfect world.
Of course we all want to see him fight again. He’s one of the greatest of all time. But equal to that desire is the belief that he should not get any kind of title shot before other contenders. I want to see him prove his legal troubles are behind him, and that he’s ready to move forward without another 7864 fight cancellations. It is possible to be a bad guy and a success. Many have done it. Be the antagonist. Be the heel. Get back to your fighting best. Just don’t taint your remarkable career any further. The chances have all but run out…