Every now and then, an MMA fighter comes along and proves to be a groundbreaking star. They make a name for themselves on the biggest stage of all. These days, it’s happening much more often. In the world of sports, it isn’t always a certain rival that stops an athlete from being successful. Sometimes, an athlete doesn’t need any help ruining their chances and digging their own grave.
A prime example is Jon Jones.
Jones is considered to be one of the best champions and fighters in UFC history. He has some competition for this honor — UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva comes to mind — but the argument can be made Jones is either No. 1 or No. 2. The difference between Jones and someone like Silva, however, is that Silva never made the unprofessional mistakes and horrible errors in judgement that Jones has made. Furthermore, what Jones has done to his own reputation in a very short span of time will be enough to forever overshadow his successes inside the Octagon.
So much has happened to Jones that it’s almost hard to keep track at this point. There have been failed USADA drug tests, run-ins with the law and more.
Recently, after defeating his chief rival Daniel Cormier via knockout at UFC 213, Jones, for the second time in just over a year, was caught violating the USADA’s anti-doping policy. It was discovered that he took an anabolic steroid called Turinabol, which he was tested for after weighing in for his fight with Cormier a day before the fight took place.
His last positive test was July 8, 2016, which occurred right before a scheduled fight where he was, once again, set to fight Cormier at UFC 200. In that test, it was discovered that Jones took two banned substances, clomiphene and letrozole, one being an anti-estrogen substance and the other inhibiting aromatase. That led to a one-year suspension for Jones. He responded by declaring his innocence. Arbitrators, working with the USADA, decided that the fighter hadn’t taken the substances knowingly.
Jones has also gotten into legal trouble after a hit-and-run accident, where he fled the scene afterwards, as well as allegations of cocaine use (that he didn’t deny, and actually boasted about as his most recent fight with Cormier approached). In a separate doping violation, he tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine called benzoylecgonine.
Jones has never been able to stay out of the spotlight, whether it’s been for good reasons or bad. Even with all of his success, his legacy in MMA will forever be tainted by the fact that he could never maintain a professional life for himself where he wasn’t involved in some kind of scandal or controversy.
While the beginning of his career was full of success — he became the youngest light heavyweight champion in UFC history at age 24 and defended his title eight times — it all came down to his personal demons. These demons ended up doing him greater harm than any opponent could do inside the Octagon.
The question now is, will the “B” sample of Jones’s most recent doping violation come back positive, confirming his guilt? If so, it could potentially spell the end of his UFC career, and maybe even his entire MMA career. A four-year suspension, the penalty handed out after a second positive test, means Jones will be 34 before he can fight professionally again. That’s a long time for a fighter to not maintain consistent action. The UFC will certainly have no incentive to keep him around, either, especially with how much he has let the company down through his mistakes.
What Jones does with his career after a potential four-year suspension, assuming the “B” sample is positive, is up to him. It’s very possible that he will recover from it and go back to fighting again. However, the dark cloud of steroids, cocaine, the hit-and-run, and so on, will never go away. Even at age 30, Jones has never been able to fully grow up and be the man he said he was. This final positive test seems to be the icing on the cake of a great career mired in unpredictable screw-ups.
Hopefully, the one lesson Jones takes away from his failures is to be a better role model and teach kids who want to become professional fighters that you should never think you’re invincible. Never take things for granted, like he did. Always be on top of your priorities and never take your eye off of the ball. Once you do that, thinking you can do whatever you want and get away with it, you’ll eventually lose control and destroy your life. Jones sure did.