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Peter Dabbene (guest op-ed): Jon Jones and the Troubles of “Adversity”

By Zach Arnold | September 29, 2012

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Peter Dabbene is a writer of short stories, novels, graphic novels, and plays; he is a reviewer and a columnist, and yes, a poet (but a tough one). His website is

I once liked Jon Jones. Really. Back during his first fights, it was exciting to project how far the UFC’s next rising star might go. But of course, I felt the same way about Brandon Vera early in his career, so I tried to temper my expectations. As we all know, Jones continued to win, eventually earning the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.

There were flashes of trouble along the way, though—what often seemed like false and ingratiating humbleness, combined with behind the scenes issues, notably the supposed promise not to fight Rashad Evans. Whether the blame for that fiasco ultimately lay with Jones, or MMA puppeteer Greg Jackson, it didn’t look good. Then there was the simple fact that Jones’s raw physical advantages made him difficult for any fighter in his category. Yes, he trained hard, but when your reach is longer than anyone else in your division, you should be an effective striker.

At this point, Jones simply became a fighter I rooted against.

Then came the DWI. Regrettably, DWIs and athletes have become a common pairing, but there’s a big difference between someone faltering after clearly presenting himself as a role model, like Jones, and someone like Chael Sonnen, who, with his history of performance-enhancing drugs, money laundering, and perjury, is clearly known as a dirt bag. Let’s not forget that Jones himself set up his own fall in April 2012 by saying, “You never have to worry about me with a DWI or doing something crazy.” After his skills as a prophet were disproven, Jones made the obligatory apologies, but there were also hints of a persecution complex when he told the media, “It has literally been sickening to have so many people try to kick me while I’m down.”

Sorry, Jon. We’ll try to do better for you.

On the heels of the DWI came UFC 151. Or rather, the absence of UFC 151. Jones refused to face Sonnen as a last-minute replacement, using every excuse available, starting with “it wasn’t enough time to prepare,” which was later modified to a self-serving speech about his responsibilities to his family and his camp, and then, finally, an obvious attempt to rewrite history, claiming that he had decided that Chael Sonnen simply didn’t deserve a shot at the title, in large part because of the comments he had made about Brazilians, which, Jones said, reminded him of his own experiences with racial discrimination growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood.


If Sonnen offended Jones that much, why not go beat him up in the Octagon? Compare Jones’s behavior with Anderson Silva, who, aside from shutting Sonnen’s mouth by defeating him, later volunteered to step up and fight another UFC light heavyweight on eight days’ notice to fill the UFC 151 main event void. (Apparently Silva didn’t want to fight Jones because Silva respects him too much… hopefully Anderson sees this column and changes his mind soon.)

After wiggling out of a sure P.R. guillotine by playing the race card, Jones wasn’t done trying to control every who, what, where, when, and how of his career. He tried to distract fans from the UFC 151 debacle by blaming the UFC for not giving fans “full cards”… but it would have been a pretty full card if one of the fights was for the Light Heavyweight Championship, wouldn’t it, Jon?

Jones also rejected the idea of a rematch with Lyoto Machida because, quote:

“Lyoto was my lowest draw. Why would I want to fight someone where it’s a lose-lose situation? I won’t make money on it. And he’s a tricky fighter.”

Even if Jones wouldn’t make as much money fighting Machida, if he’s the top contender, what’s the excuse? Would Jones prefer the UFC bring back 49 year old (but still popular) Randy Couture for a title fight, thus giving Jones an acceptable low-fight risk/high-financial reward combination? Or is he also too “tricky”?

Even after all of that, Jones’s UFC 152 pre-fight interviews were truly amazing—and not in a good way. Jones put such a positive spin on his DWI, you’d almost think he was endorsing drinking and driving as a fun, easy way to clean the slate of a troubled past. Jones said that it’s “freed” him from UFC fan expectations, and that all of this “adversity” has made him a better person.

Really, Jon? A better person, for ducking fights and relishing your screw-ups? Jones has obviously drunk too much of Greg Jackson’s special brand of Kool-Aid; “adversity” implies bad luck, things happening beyond your control—injuries, a death in the family. What’s happened to Jon Jones isn’t “adversity”… it’s called “making bad decisions.” I figured that at least now, UFC fans would let Jones hear their disapproval when he finally faced Vitor Belfort, who apparently is enough of a good, moral guy for Jones to agree to fight him.

The final pre-fight interviews feature a constipated look on Dana White’s face whenever the champ is mentioned. Then, finally, the moment arrives—Jones emerges at UFC 152. There is a scattering of boos, but not as much as I expected. I enjoy Jones’ chastisement by referee John McCarthy, after Jones complains about Belfort’s attempted kick during Jones’ ridiculous gorilla-crawl into the center of the Octagon. The fight goes on, Belfort comes close, but Jones is better, and wins. The crowd mostly cheers. Then, at the end of the broadcast, Mike Goldberg refers to the two fighters and actually says, “If you want a role model for your son or daughter, those aren’t bad choices.” I have no problem saying that about Belfort, but Jon Jones?

Unfortunately, it looks like Jones’s P.R. game is working—either that, or Greg Jackson’s been spiking the drinks of UFC fans everywhere.

Maybe there’s still hope that fans see through the illusion. Of the 16,800 attendees at Air Canada Centre for UFC 152, 40% of them didn’t pay for the privilege. How many will pay next time? Unless he fights someone like Silva or a heavyweight who can challenge him physically, this could be an indicator of future Jones cards. If Jon Jones does go the way of Alex Rodriguez and other athletes we love to hate, could we see a battle for most disliked fighter between Jones and Sonnen? Or better yet, some WWE-style reversals, with Jones embracing his inner jerk and Sonnen turning over a new leaf? It’s starting to look like Sonnen’s big mouth will get him the next fight against Jones—and I, for one, will be rooting for the dirtbag.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 12 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

12 Responses to “Peter Dabbene (guest op-ed): Jon Jones and the Troubles of “Adversity””

  1. Kalle says:

    “If Sonnen offended Jones that much, why not go beat him up in the Octagon?”

    Because that would be doing what Sonnen wants. Sonnen’s reward would, by far, exceed any beating he might suffer. If you want to hurt Sonnen you don’t give him the attention he craves or the payday he’s clamoring for.

    And as long as Sonnen doesn’t have a single LHW win to his name in the UFC why should Jones deign to fight him. Sonnen needs to prove that he can win fights at LHW, not just write offensive tweets.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    As of today, Jon Jones is still one of my Top 5 fighters to watch.

    As a fan who follows the sport, he is either extremely immature or just mentally flawed.

  3. mitch-o says:

    Thank you for this well written article that’s not afraid of the ufc taking offense to what is obviously right in front of viewers and fans faces. I do enjoy watching Jones fight cuz he is skilled however hearing him talk and early on try to make himself look like something he if obviously not, has made me really resent the fact he thinks we fans are unintelligent. I also agree 100% that he does have a huge advantage with his reach n height against all 205ers. Infact when I was watching a free fight on my xbox 360 of Bones vs Machida, my dad came over and sat down and this was his first viewing of a Jon Jones fight or anything Jon Jones. His first words & observation was this – ” wow that guy has a major reach advantage over him” basically saying how is this a fair fight ? and soon after machida landed some strikes and had Jon facing “adversity”. But then the 2nd round came and as we know Machida was choked out and then let go to drop to the floor face first like a sack of potatoes but with a face and one that could of suffered un-needed damage at that point. Then what some fans were able to catch and bring to attention of what was the earliest sign of Greg Jackson puppeteering the career n image of his beloved recruited fighter– he said this ” Hey Jon go over there to Machida and get some fans ” What ?? How about show some of that class n respect and religous attitudes you so often speak about and firstly dont just throw your unconcious opponent the ground ! I know this is competition and adrenaline takes over emotions in fighting but how someone deals with defeat or success really is the true telling of ones nature. I would of rather seen him hold onto machida long enough for the ref to take over n safely lead Lyoto back to the mat for examination or simply so he doesnt land on his face or neck and seriously injure himself while his lights are out. Its hard to request a fighter to act humanely while he is fighting, but if that was me you would of seen me show some compassion & class by releasing the choke and holding Machida while I carefully place him on the mat before I run around like a wildman celebrating my achievement. Thats what I was thinking when I watched that fight and how unsurprised I am now of what has been revealed about Jon’s true identity.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Ive said before that they should have height classes instead of weight classes. People tend to laugh that notion…. but i think there is a certain amount of legitamcy in it. How is a 6 inch height advantage any less imoortant then a 20 pound weight advantage?

      People can increase their bulk. They cannot make themselves taller or shorter….

      • Chuck says:

        What would be the cut-offs? Where would 6’11” Struve fit in? How about 5’3″ Demetrius Johnson? Okay, how about someone like me? I’m 5’6″ or so, but I weigh about 165 lbs. (do judo, used to wrestle, etc.)? Would it be fair for me to fight 125-135 lb. D. Johnson in a professional fight? I only have about three inches in height on him, and I think about three inches in reach (my wingspan is longer than I am tall, so maybe 69 inches? 68 and a half? Love to get that checked). And also to throw out there, I fill out 165 pretty well (I’m stocky) but could probably lose ten pounds for true weight potential (judo weight classes are crazy. I compete at 161. Under that is 145. Yeah, they’re pretty wide differentials).

        I understand your point, but weight is definitely a better match-making proponent for special classes than is height. Not saying height isn’t good to use, but weight is better.

  4. Alex says:

    Yea, why would he fight Chael when he clearly said a week before the 151 debacle that he would not let Chael talk his way into a title fight? His DWI wasn’t that bad. Plenty of people get multiple DUIs throughout their life. One mistake doesn’t make him a horrible person. I never heard him saying the 151 card was a great and full card to begin with. He never refused to fight Lyoto again. He said he didn’t want to, but would if the UFC told him to. Same thing with fighting Rashad. How did he pull the race card? Chael clearly said racist things about Brazil, and Jones very likely has encountered some form of racism or prejudice in his lifetime. Belfort’s kick attempt on Jones when he was crawling would’ve definitely been illegal if it landed. Yea, pretty sure Chael doesn’t get the next shot considering he’s already going to fight Forrest.

  5. retzev says:

    I’m a 40 year old Caucasian male. I have been on the receiving end of racial discrimination many times. I do NOT consider myself a victim and I do NOT use it to excuse any of the poor decisions that I have made in my life, nor should anyone else. That type of thinking and talk is simply childish, and frankly, it’s disgusting.

  6. edub says:

    Sorry, but I stopped reading after the second or third paragraph. I don’t need to read another article about somebody looking down on Jon Jones. Its been done multiple places already, and I personally could care less about your opinion of him.

  7. Ryan says:

    I 100% agree with this article. Jones is a great fighter but I just can’t stand to watch him due to his obviously flawed personality. He comes across as arrogant and obnoxious.
    The thing that made me feel like this most was the thing you missed in the article. Greg Jackson having to tell Jon Jones to check on Machida after their fight. “Jon…go check on him and get some fans”. Surely this alone demonstrates Jon Jones’ lack of sportsmanship, respect for other fighters, the UFC and the fans.
    He’s a jerk! Move to heavyweight and see how good you really are.

  8. johnnyv says:

    All that to say you hate Jon Jones? Great – get in line.

  9. RST says:

    “Yes, he trained hard, but when your reach is longer than anyone else in your division, you should be an effective striker.

    At this point, Jones simply became a fighter I rooted against.”

    You sound like a super fan dude.

    Cool story bro.

  10. […] by Peter Dabbene, “Jon Jones and the Troubles of Adversity,” available for viewing at: This entry was posted in Publications by admin. Bookmark the […]


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