MMA

Can Jon Jones return to form for UFC… and for himself?

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by Mike Pendleton | @MP2310


With no Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey present, the casual MMA fan likely only knows one other big name, Jon “Bones” Jones. That would be former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, the fallen from grace Jon Jones, the man who had it all but was defeated by his biggest enemy, himself.

Jones, who has admitted to have a substance abuse problem but now says he is sober, can most recently be remembered for the trouble he’s been in outside of the Octagon. Jones was stripped of his title in April of 2015 after he was involved in a hit-and-run accident involving a pregnant woman and then was suspended for roughly 6 months.

Once he returned, Jones was scheduled to fight his bitter rival Daniel Cormier at UFC 197 until Cormier withdrew due to injury and Jones completed his comeback by beating Ovince Saint Preux for what was at the time an interim title. However, despite the win, it was just weeks before the fight that Jones was caught on camera arguing and disgracing a police officer who had pulled him over.

Through it all, Jones remained a guy that the UFC pushed and made a headliner for any event that he was on. Scheduled to finally have the rematch against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200, Jones once again found himself on the wrong side of the headlines but this time it was much more serious. Just days before the marquee event, UFC President Dana White announced that Jones had failed a USADA drug test and was being removed from the card and ultimately suspended. Even worse, UFC Embedded caught the moment where White informed Cormier of the failed test and all that Cormier could display was disappointment.

Disappointment, it’s a word that has followed Jon Jones the person (not so much the fighter) throughout his career. A fighter who has been pretty much flawless inside the cage, just one loss due to disqualification (illegal use of elbows) but many losses outside of it.

After the unfortunate events at UFC 200, Dana White said that he would no longer have Jones headline a PPV card and it seemed as if he was serious. However, with the familiarity of Jones’ name and the popularity and interest in the rivalry with Cormier the UFC booked their fight to be the main event at UFC 214 in Anaheim, California on July 29.

As quickly as White said Jones would no longer be part of a main event, they ended up putting him in the main event anyways. Champions sell in the UFC however, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Stipe Miocic, two of the current best champions in the promotion, don’t sell the way Jones would. In fact, there’s about two fighters who may sell more than a Jones-Cormier card and that’s Conor McGregor vs anyone and the same with Ronda Rousey.

UFC 213 lost a great main event when Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw had to be pulled due to a Garbrandt injury, McGregor is chasing Mayweather, and Rousey is pursuing television roles, so all eyes lock in on Jones and Cormier.

Jones is scheduled to return from suspension in early July and the UFC can only hope that he puts himself in a personal bubble that keeps him out of trouble and prepared for action. While there have been some very fight nights put together, 2017 has been lackluster and unless McGregor or Rousey come walking back to the Octagon, the UFC needs Jon Jones to fight Daniel Cormier, and they need it more than they’d likely to admit.

Once again, “Bones” will carry and reign supreme for the UFC leading up to the 214 PPV event. If it wasn’t for his own mistakes, Jon Jones could quite possibly be not just the greatest mixed-martial-arts fighter of all-time, but his legacy could have gone down as one of the greatest athletes in all of sports. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, but Jones will continue to be the gift that keeps on giving, now the UFC will have to cross their fingers and make sure both Jones and Cormier show up on July 29, because if one or both of them do not show, 2017 could be a very down year.

The UFC needs Jon Jones just as much, if not more, than Jon Jones needs the UFC.

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