Jon Jones cements complicated legacy at UFC 159

Jon Jones has a complicated relationship with UFC and its fans. Credit: Getty Images
Jon Jones has a complicated relationship with the UFC and its fans.
Credit: Getty Images

It was a scene as awkward as it was uncomfortable.

Jon Jones stood behind Roy Nelson inside the Theatre at Madison Square Garden Thursday afternoon. The stars of the Ultimate Fighting Championship were in New York to promote Saturday night’s UFC 159 pay-per-view event and were preparing to square off for photos with their opponents.

“Two of your favorite people,” Jones said to UFC President Dana White in reference to himself and Nelson. Nelson has earned White’s ire for what the executive believes is an unprofessional attitude toward his career.

Jones and Nelson convulsed in laughter. White smiled uneasily and turned away.

It was the briefest of moments but it encapsulated the conundrum that is Jones.

Who is he? What is he?

The first question is complex. The second is straightforward.

Jones is still the UFC’s Light-Heavyweight champion after dispatching Chael Sonnen with a first-round TKO Saturday night at UFC 159. Jones is now 18-1.

“I knew in that five minutes who the better fighter was,” Sonnen said.

Jones met Sonnen in the middle of the cage at the bell and engaged his opponent in a wrestling match. Eventually, he muscled Sonnen against the cage and began peppering the top contender with strikes before referee Keith Peterson stopped the fight.

Simply, it was a display of graceful malevolence in a four minute and 33 second span.

“I wanted to Chael Sonnen Chael Sonnen,” Jones said.

Mission accomplished.

“He was in on my legs before I knew it,” Sonnen said. “I don’t think I’ve been taken down three times in my career. [He] took me down three times in one round. He’s a lot better than I thought. He’s the best fighter I’ve ever fought.”

But will Jones’ malevolent genius be appreciated?

For all of Jones’ physical gifts and career success, he has not captured the adoration of mixed martial arts fans.

It is the oddest of conundrums. Society values greatness in all forms. So it would stand to reason that Jones would be respected, if not beloved, for his meteoric rise to the top of the premier MMA organization in the world.

Nevertheless, by his own words, Jones acknowledged he has “haters.”

Certainly, some of it is jealousy. Jones has become one of UFC’s cornerstones — along with Anderson Silva, Ronda Rousey and Georges St. Pierre — at the grizzled age of 25. Yet for those who loathe Jones for his youth and success, an equal number despise him for his actions and words.

His first public misstep occurred last May 19 when Jones was arrested for DUI in Binghamton, N.Y. after he crashed his Bentley into a pole. The Ithaca, N.Y. native subsequently had his license suspended for six months and paid a $1,000 fine.

“I got a DWI,” Jones said with more than a hint of irritation in his voice Thursday. “It was last year. It’s like everyone’s comeback every time they want to get at me.”

Three months later, Jones’ refusal to accept a short notice fight with Sonnen after Dan Henderson had to pull out of the scheduled light-heavyweight title fight with a partially torn knee ligament at UFC 151 caused the cancellation of the card.

In an oft-profane conference call to announce the card’s cancellation, White said it was a “selfish, disgusting decision” that hurt 16 fighters and the company. Jones responded by writing a tweet in which he blamed the cancellation of UFC 151 on “old man” Henderson “and his knee.”

His decision and subsequent snit did not win him many fans. Neither has his tepidity regarding a potential superfight with UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

“We’re in the fight business,” Sonnen said, adding that Silva and Jones should have been calling White requesting the fight. White noted that Silva called him to ask for a fight but would not divulge if he asked to fight Jones or St. Pierre.

Jones, who spoke during the week about moving to heavyweight, is one successful title defense away from passing Tito Ortiz for the most in light-heavyweight division history. In the post-fight press conference, Jones expressed interest in a fight against Alexander Gustafsson.

Before Jones left the press conference to have a fractured big toe on his left foot examined, he was asked if he thought he could go down in history as the greatest light-heavyweight in UFC history.

“I owe it to myself to be great,” Jones said. “Life is good.”

Follow MMA writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.