This weekend Jon “Bones” Jones will headline UFC 235 in Las Vegas against the very experienced Anthony “Lionheart” Smith, just two months after defeating Alexander Gustaffson.
With this stacked card on the horizon, I found myself wondering, what is Jon Jones legacy? With 23 wins and only one loss since he made his UFC debut on August 9, 2008, he is surely one of the most dominant fighters to ever step in the Octagon. If you were to ask a MMA fan who the greatest to ever do it, Jon is easily on that list based on his UFC record.
Jones is a once in a lifetime athlete, and is one of those rare fighters that feels special to watch. Jones has two wins over Daniel Cormier, and has dominated most of his fights since his debut. He is truly a one of a kind athlete, and that is something that nobody can ever deny. However, once you look at his record outside the octagon, the discussion about his legacy gets a little sticky.
Jon was the perfect fighter in UFC’s eyes for a long time, he was a good role model and was everything you could ever want as a fighter. It is no surprise that the UFC pushed him as hard as they did, he was the perfect storm. Then the controversy with Jon started in 2012 when he drove his Bentley Continental GT into a pole in Binghamton, New York and was arrested for driving under the influence.
The bad luck with cars unfortunately would not stop there, because he was involved in a hit-and-run in 2015 that left a pregnant women with a broken arm. Jones grabbed money from his rental car and fled the scene, he was light heavyweight champion at the time, and was promptly stripped of his title.
Then of course, the issues started with the failed drug tests and picograms. Jon was popped for banned substances, twice. Although the supplements tainted his legacy for some, Nevada State Athletic Commission has come to the conclusion that there is no scientific or medical evidence to prove that Jon has an unfair advantage heading into UFC 235.
So with all this being said, including the good and the bad heading into UFC 235, what is Jon Jones legacy?
Well, it’s kind of clouded. There are two sides to the legacy: his dominance in the UFC, and his struggles outside of it. I’ve gone back and forth on the legacy of Jon Jones, but with all this being said I think you have to look at Jones as one of the greatest of all time.
He’s the youngest champion in the history of the light heavyweight division, he has never lost a championship fight, and his only loss was a disqualification, which many blame on a bad referee decision. Jon has had his demons, but for any young man to be thrusted into the spotlight like he was, it is not surprising that he made some bad decisions in his early years.
When it comes to his USADA issues, I personally don’t think he has taken anything that has improved his performance. I believe the Jones you see in that Octagon is God-given talent and has not been affected positively or negatively by the substances. I think when you really dissect Jones’ career and look at all the factors and controversies he has been involved in, they do not take away from the fact that he is a special, one of a kind athlete.
Make sure to watch Jon Jones continue to build his legacy against Anthony Smith this weekend at UFC 235.