Jon Jones was arrested for suspicion of DUI early Saturday morning after he wrapped his Bentley around a pole in Binghamton, NY. As TMZ pointed out, the arresting officers were from the same agency that Jones trained with for this video which featured him getting attacked by a police dog. Jones, who just a year ago ran down a mugger hours before his first title fight, has finally given people a reason to hate him.
“Hate” might be a strong word for a 24-year-old who made a mistake* and didn’t hurt anyone, but on the Internet, we only have hate, love and indifference. There is nothing else.
Jones is the youngest champion in UFC history. When he steps inside the cage, he is frustratingly untouchable. He possesses all the talent in the world and after just 17 fights in his first 24 years on this planet, he’s already talked about as one of the greatest fighters of all-time. With Brock Lesnar sick and then retired and Georges St. Pierre injured, Jon Jones has readily become the face of the UFC over the last year. Deservedly so. Since February 5, 2011, Jones has fought 5 times, winning all of them. He won the title in March of last year and has defended it three times.
Before his weekend, Jones was cocky bordering on arrogant. That’s understandable when you are a young, star athlete, but no one cares about understandable. There is just how you are perceived. Winning breeds love or contempt and people were more than happy to hate Jon Jones.
On the smaller MMA scale, it’s the same thing that LeBron James goes through. It’s a few degrees away from the love/hate relationship people have with Tim Tebow. (Did I mention Jones is a Christian who thanks Jesus after fights?)
All the while, as Jones’ star was rising, he projected a clean image. An image he actively worked to maintain. Just over a month ago, Jones was sponsored by the UFC for his UFC145 title defense against Rashad Evans. Before the fight, Jones told MMA Weekly that his clean image was important as he had goals for his personal brand.
“If you realize, I try to look for relationships with companies, long lasting relationships with companies. So a part of my brand is to keep it clean. Less is more in my opinion.”
He also added this:
“We came up with a strategy to keep it clean and be sponsored by the UFC itself. I’m glad the UFC wanted to work with me as well, and I think that they trust that I’ll never make them look bad. You never have to worry about me with a DWI (driving while under the influence) or doing something crazy,” Jones explained.
That story was published on April 13. Those words would be unfortunate no matter how long ago they were spoken. This soon though? Just plain stupid. It doesn’t mean he can’t get back that clean image, but it does mean he doesn’t get to be in another Bud Light commercial anytime soon. (Jones left an unpolished apology to his fans on Facebook.)
On Sunday, Jones’ Wikipedia page was edited so that the arrest would be represented on his fight resume.
There’s no reason he can’t move past this. He is scheduled to fight Dan Henderson on September 1st. When he enters the cage, a couple million people will be watching and hoping he either gets knocked out or defends his belt. There is no indifference with Jon Jones. Not anymore.
*That is the most simplistic way to say it obviously. Drunk driving is bad and you shouldn’t do it. This has been a public service announcement.