Given that Jon Jones has said he’ll be a changed man when returns next summer, how skeptical are you that he has matured (on a 1-5 scale, 5 being very very skeptical, 1 being you think he’s sincere and has changed)? And with that in mind, given today’s landscape and projecting it to next summer, what are top options for Jones’s first fight back?
MIKE GROCKE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
TheFreeDictionary.com defines the phrase “a leopard can’t change it’s spots” as: One will stay true to one’s nature, even if one pretends or claims otherwise.
Let me share one more phrase that fits the way I feel, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
After Jon Jones was reinstated back into the UFC in October of 2015 after he was stripped of his title and removed from the official rankings stemming from a hit and run felony, I thought this was what he needed to get his life back on track. I was 100 percent behind him. Oh, what a fool I was. Looking back, I wanted to believe him because I was such a big fan of his. So on a scale of 1-5, I’m at a 4 for skepticism, and that’s only because I’m not one to go to extremes.
If the UFC wants to send Jones a message and have him work his way back up, I think they’ll be shooting themselves in the foot. I don’t see them going that route because the big money fight is Jon Jones vs. whomever is holding the title upon his return. Another problem is that the Light Heavyweight Division is one of the weaker divisions in the company and Jones will most likely steam roll through guys he’s already beaten including Glover Teixeira, Ryan Bader, and Ovince Saint Preux. Heck, here at the Torch we have him ranked no. 2 in the pound for pound category.
Granted the circumstances are different, but the UFC gave Ronda Rousey a title fight her first fight back and I see them doing the same for Jones. And while I hate to admit it, after Jones serves his suspension and is reinstated again, I’ll be right back in his corner rooting for one of the best MMA fighters in history… only to eventually be disappointed again.
ROBERT VALLEJOS, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Someone can only be a new man so many times. Based on his interviews and social media posts, nothing really seems to have changed. Jon Jones just can’t stop coming off as an aloof jock who is ungrateful for the chances he has been given.
Fortunately for Jones, the Light Heavyweight Division is an absolute joke at the moment. Therefore, Jones probably still belongs at the top of the division. For different reasons, Daniel Cormier had also proven to be somewhat unreliable. If the UFC could weather the public relations storm, a bout against Anthony Johnson on a stacked card could really drive a good buyrate.
MIKE HISCOE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I agree with Dana White that Jones shouldn’t be headlining any pay-per-views any time soon. That said, you could book Jones second from the top in a title fight if necessary. Regardless of who is champion next summer, I would book Jones against Anthony Johnson. It’s really the only big fight for Jones that hasn’t happened and I’d really like to see how Jones responds to the punching power of Johnson. If it needs to be a title fight, that’s okay, but put it second from the top.