“Bad Mistakes, I’ve made a few”.
Never has there been a more fitting athlete to apply the opening verse of Queen’s “We are the Champions” than Jon Jones.
“I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face, But I’ve come through”.
I mean it almost has to be written about him, right?
Jon Jones’ greatness has never been in question. He has never officially been beaten as a professional fighter, as his only loss was a result of a piss poor rule that had to do with breaking ice blocks with you elbow. Yes, it sounds stupid because it is stupid. But that’s neither here nor there.
Jones has never been questioned due to his skill, it’s always “something else”.
Since 2015, when Jones executed a hit and run involving a pregnant woman in New Mexico, there has been a cloud over the UFC’s youngest ever champion. He was stripped of his light heavyweight title for his actions, returned in 2016 to win back his title, and was then stripped again after testing positive before his rematch with Daniel Cormier at UFC 200. He returned in 2017, and seemingly defeated Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight title in a highly anticipated rematch, but was stripped a month later for a third time after testing positive, again.
After the second failed drug test, people wrote off Jones entirely. Most famously, UFC President Dana White, whose typically uber supportive of his fighters, publicly called Jones “the biggest waste of talent in all of sports”. And he was kind of right.
Jones became UFC light heavyweight champion at the ripe age of 23, the youngest to UFC fighter to ever do so. He would win 13 consecutive UFC bouts, going a full 7 years unbeaten streak before his no contest with DC in 2017. During that time he ran roughshod over the UFC light heavyweight division, beating the best the UFC had to offer, and typically in convincing fashion.
But, after the controversies, people either forgot or no longer cared about how great of a fighter Jones was. He was forever labeled as a cheater, a fraud, and a myriad of other tired names. His past accomplishment were cast into doubt.
But, through it all, Jones came back last night. Clean as a whistle. And by the way, don’t talk to me about the trace amount of PED’s they found in his urine sample, because that was deemed to be so minimal that it had to have been remanence of his past failed tests. Read a book.
And boy, did he not disappoint.
Once Queen began to play, the Forum turned red, and Jones was shown quietly soaking in the atmosphere, it was suddenly apparent that the greatest fighter to ever step into the octagon was back and he was ready to do some business.
Jones was matched up with Swedish Boxer Alexander Gustafsson, a rematch of their barn burner of a match from 2013, a match that is frequently mentioned in the category of the best title fights in UFC history.
This match wouldn’t last long enough to be mentioned in the same breath as the original.
Jones repeatedly tagged Gustafsson, picking apart his body, and chopping down his legs like Paul Bunyan for the first two rounds of the fight. In the third the onslaught continued with Jones securing a powerful takedown and immediately starting to rain down shots on the battered Sweed. Jones would eventually take Gustafsson’s back and would finish the fight with a barrage of punches that put “The Mauler” to sleep.
The king had reclaimed his throne.
— UFC (@ufc) December 30, 2018
For myself, shamelessly being a Jones supporter since his defeat of Ryan Bader in 2011, this was a moment of vindication. I, and many other Jon Jones fans, had been holding onto the hope that he would come back from his suspension and emphatically prove everyone wrong in the process. And I, for one, was more than pleased with the outcome.
Jones was cocky as ever in his post fight press conference, making fun of Daniel Cormier, seemingly setting up one last final battle.
— UFC (@ufc) December 30, 2018
But while it’s amazing that Jones won, it’s good just to have him back. He is, undoubtedly, a top 5 fighter of all time, and with an extended run of title defenses, could easily catapult himself into the greatest fighter to ever put on a pair of gloves.
Congratulations Jon “Bones” Jones, now don’t fuck it up.
Photo via UFC Twitter Page