Barry Hall and Paul Gallen weigh-in for their much anticipated Code War bout.
On March 19, 2011, the world witnessed the birth of perhaps the greatest fighter to ever set foot in the world of MMA.
That fateful day, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones won the UFC light heavyweight championship, and what we would come to witness would be the greatest but most self-destructive career to date.
After capturing the title, Jones went on one of the greatest runs in MMA history, defending his title eight times in convincing fashion. Among those to fall to Jones are legends like Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort – the list goes on – murders row, a list of future first ballot hall-of-famers.
These are exciting times to be a UFC fan. I would be diving head-first into the MMA world. As a fan during the days of dominance, not only did Jon Jones become my very first favourite fighter, you couldn’t imagine he would ever lose the title.
So where did it all go wrong?
Jones has confessed to using cocaine and marijuana, as well as drinking. In 2015 he crashed his car, hitting and injuring a pregnant woman. What made matters worse is that he fled the scene on foot, and a warrant was issued for Jones’s arrest before he turned himself in later that day.
Jones was stripped of his title and suspended by the UFC. He went into hiding, which became a confusing turn of events for fans of the now former champion.
By this stage, I had lost all hope for Jon Jones. I began following his biggest rival, Daniel Cormier, the man who went on to win Jones’ stripped UFC light heavyweight championship.
After the long setback, Jones finally made his way back into the octagon to try to reclaim the title he never lost at one of the company’s biggest events in history, UFC 200, but he was denied prior to the fight as he was found to have returned a potentially positive test to a banned substance and was suspended for one year by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. It’s a failed drug test that Jones still denies to this day.
Once his suspension expired, Jones wasted no time getting back into the octagon, defeating Cormier once again and reclaiming his throne – or so he thought.
It was a shocking turn of events that stunned MMA fans all over the world. Jones had failed yet another drug test, testing positive for an anabolic steroid in 2017. Fans started to turn away from the UFC bad boy in disgust. How could the once face of the UFC let so many of his fans down again and again?
Jones served another suspension, this time for 15 months, and for the second time, had the UFC light heavyweight championship stripped and awarded back to Cormier.
By this time I had lost all respect for Jones. He had become a stain on the sport I love.
Jones eventually made his return for what would surely be his last chance with the sport and the UFC. The UFC light heavyweight title would this time be vacated by Cormier as he left the division to capture the company’s heavyweight prize, leaving Jones and Gustafsson to fight over the vacant title. Jones would make easy work of his opponent, capturing the gold for the third time.
Last Sunday, Jones defended his title in yet another dominant performance.
The superstar has managed to stay out of trouble since his return, but it’s fair to say that many fans wouldn’t be confident of him keeping out of trouble when you consider his history of indiscretions.
I’ll never say that I won’t be a Jon ‘Bones’ Jones fan again – I’m slowly warming up to him – and if he keeps going down the correct path, I can confidently say that he will become the greatest of all time.