Jon Jones tests positive for cocaine, enters drug rehab
Published on Wednesday, 1/7/15, at 10:43 a.m. Eastern.
The news broke late Tuesday afternoon from Kevin Iole, the long-time boxing and MMA scribe for Yahoo Sports. I was at the gym, sneaking a peek at ESPN on the overhead television.
“BREAKING: UFC champ Jon Jones enters drug rehab.”
What?! Less than 72 hours after defeating Daniel Cormier in one of the biggest fights of his storied career, he was national news for all the wrong reasons. In the post-fight interviews, Jones talked about what a great place he was at in his life. He was in the process of moving his family to New Mexico and staying completely focused on training year round at Greg Jackson’s camp.
After the initial surprise wore off, I scolded myself for being surprised to begin with. In my mind, Jones is already The GOAT. To me, his accomplishments have already exceeded those of the great Anderson Silva, the former middleweight kingpin who was MMA’s biggest star before ‘Bones’ came along.
But in terms of everything going on with Jones outside of the Octagon, he lost me a long time ago. Before he obliterated Shogun Rua to become the youngest UFC champ at the age of 23, Jones did everything right outside of the cage.
He was humble, respectful to opponents and classy at the microphone with Joe Rogan following every victory. When he beat Rua, Jones thanked The Man Upstairs, talked about being blessed and told the crowd, “dreams really can come true.” Every MMA fan loved the guy, including this one.
But it wouldn’t be long until Jones started to rub everybody the wrong way. In a Michael Jordan kind of way, Jones seemed very determined to promote “his brand” and appeal to every endorsement opportunity. And they would come, including Nike and the UFC.
In May of 2012, Jones got a DUI after wrapping his Bentley around a tree at 5:00 a.m. as two women accompanied him. The $190,000 car was totaled and the champ had to explain to his fiancee, who was home taking care of his kids, what he was doing wasted with two other women just before sunrise.
To be clear, this space isn’t hating on Jones for those circumstances. However, it’s sort of like when Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders would get into trouble back in the 1990s (Irvin more so and never drugs with Deion — simply extramarital stuff and suicide drama/lies with Prime Time). We all make mistakes but when you play the Religion Card constantly like Jones, your fuck-ups are magnified.
Jones would invite more criticism after Dan Henderson pulled out of their fight less than two weeks before UFC 151 in the summer of 2012. In desperation mode to find a replacement for Henderson, the UFC reached out to Lyoto Machida, who turned down a shot at Jones’s belt in a rematch.
Chael Sonnen was next on speed dial for Dana White. When asked if he would fight Jones in nine days, Sonnen told his boss he would catch the next flight to Vegas and fight the champ that night if needed. All problems were solved at that point, right?
Wrong. Despite the fact that Jones had been training and was ready to go, while Sonnen wasn’t even prepping for a fight at the time, it was Jones who refused to take the fight. In doing so, he cost the promotion about $20 million by some estimates. He costs other fighters on the card the paycheck they were expecting.
In other words, Jones pissed off everybody involved with the UFC by looking out for his best interests. The Diva Personality, The Self-Absorbed Jon Jones had arrived.
Since then, Jones is no longer a fan favorite. At times, he embraces that. Other times, like in the moments after beating Cormier this past Saturday, he acts bitter about it. Indeed, there are many faces to Jones.
For the time being, Reebok, his new sponsor since Nike pulled its relationship with the 205-pound champ, is standing by Jones. We can only imagine how pissed Dana is, but his public statement expressed support as well.
The positive test, one that came on Dec. 4 shortly after Jones returned from vacation in Brazil, doesn’t impact the outcome of Jones-Cormier. The test was considered to be given while “out of competition.” Therefore, Jones remains the champ.
He will still get the winner of Anthony Johnson vs. Alexander Gustafsson early this summer, and a superfight against heavyweight champ Cain Velazquez could be on the horizon late in 2015 if Jones survives the Johnson-Gustafsson winner.
But the ‘Bones Jones Brand’ took another major hit yesterday. And his outside-the-cage behavior (like simply drinking a beer in public) will come under heavy scrutiny for the duration of his career.
Jones is still perfect in the cage. Hell, he’s coming off two of his best performances, beating Cormier (wrestling) and Glover Teixeira (boxing at close distance) at their own games. But it’s clear that Jones has become his own worst enemy and for the first time in his career, it’s unclear how long his dominant reign in the UFC will continue.