The Rise, Fall and Redemption of Jon “Bones” Jones

Jon Jones is perhaps the most extraordinarily talented Mixed Martial Artist of all time but is certainly one of the most troubled

At UFC 214 in Anaheim, Calif. Jon Jones will enter the octagon for the first time since serving a one-year suspension imposed by USADA due to a positive test for estrogen blockers.

Jones, who has promised his wild days are behind him, will attempt to convince all and everyone around him that he is more focused than ever and this time he means business. As if the desire to reignite a career which has been on the brink of disaster on numerous occasions wasn’t enough, Jones’ mother Camille sadly passed away in June. Everything is pointing towards July 29 being the most important night in the career of the extraordinarily talented former champion.

The first time UFC fans became acquainted with Jon Jones was all the back on Aug. 9, 2009, at UFC 87. The unmistakable face and frame we have all come to know made his promotional debut as a relative unknown. Standing at 6 feet and four inches, the 22-year old beat his opponent André Gusmao, going the distance for the first time in his career.

Jones’ debut came following a 6 fight win streak in just 3 months before he was signed to take on Gusmao at just two-weeks notice. “Bones”, who had a background in college wrestling, dropped out of college to pursue a career in Mixed Martial Arts, which seemed optimistic given his lack of striking. The first fight of what would prove to be one of the most remarkable careers in MMA history came following just 4-months of fighting experience.

Jones, however, looked to a complete natural. Throwing spinning elbows and kicks which had been learned from YouTube videos highlighted just how incredible the feat of taking to the octagon for the first time. Given the Rochester, New York native’s calmness and composure, Jones almost immediately endeared himself to everyone watching that night.

Jones’ wrestling was an immediate standout, as was his ability to seemingly be completely in control of his movement and his distance management. It was clear that this young pretender was the real deal.

Six fights later and “Bones” had earned himself a title shot with light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128. At just 23-years-old, Jones had an opportunity to become the youngest ever champion in UFC history and he took the opportunity with both hands. Following back and forth between champion and contender for three rounds, Jones won the contest by way of TKO. A legend was born…

The attention fame and admiration which was bestowed on Jones following his greatest success could be argued as being a catalyst in the downfall fans and pundits witnessed thereafter. Stories of excess drug and alcohol abuse surfaced, with the young champion beginning to earn a reputation as the wild man of the UFC. The veil of the clean-cut and humble young man had well and truly been lifted, with a litany of controversy plaguing the New York-native.

Jones appeared on an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience in 2016 and opened up on some pretty jaw dropping approaches the former light heavyweight champion had in terms of preparing for fights:

“I had this crazy thing that I would do where I would party one week before every fight. And I did it throughout my whole career. And it was stupid, but it was this mental crutch that I had. I literally would, one week before every fight. I would go out and I would get blacked out wasted. And my logic was, if this guy were to beat me somehow, I can look myself in the mirror and say, the reason I lost is because I got hammered the week before the fight.”

“I trained for the fight, but I definitely had this thing where I felt invincible. And I did a lot of wild stuff leading up to the fight. I definitely didn’t give it my all. Really partying, drinking, staying up all night. My relationship with alcohol was never healthy, and I never went through a period in which I had a mature, healthy, responsible relationship with it.”

According to Jones, all of that is now behind him. The focus and resolve which the youngest ever UFC champion has carried around with him these past few weeks seems genuine. Will the new Jon Jones return in triumph, or has the greatness been lost? On Saturday night, we will see.