Jon Jones: Are We Mistaking Confidence for Conceit?

Levi NileContributor IIIApril 16, 2012

For all intents and purposes, it seems that many MMA fans think Jon Jones is every bit as arrogant as Rashad Evans says he is.

When Jones says he believes his own hype, or that he is the best in his division, or that he wants to become better than Ali, they're shocked and appalled.

And if that wasn’t enough, he reportedly won’t sign replica UFC title belts for fans because they were not earned.

Many MMA fans are going to be tuning in on April 21st with the hopes of seeing Jones get knocked off the top of the mountain.

And all of that is fine and just.

But everyone should take a moment to consider the possibility that they are wrong about Jones.

I am not saying they are wrong, I’m saying they might be.

In order to keep things in context, we would have to walk a mile in Jones' shoes — when he was a skinny kid who had little-to-no athletic aspirations, aside of proving himself to his brothers.

Much of what Jones has achieved is due to plain, simple daring. Instead of saying “I can’t do that,” his modus operandi is “I don’t know I can’t do that until I try."

Considering the results of his MMA career, Jones has succeeded at what he has tried to do.

Jon Kopaloff/Getty
Jon Kopaloff/Getty

Fighters' lives are based upon seconds. They have to focus all of their energies toward the next step or the next drill.

Most successful fighters can do this because they have some God-given athletic ability that allows them to sail on autopilot through those difficult sessions.

And once again, there is nothing wrong with this.

For Jones, he has not attained any of his acclaim due to athletic grace. Many say he is more like Roy Jones Jr. than Muhammad Ali, but I beg to differ.

Roy Jones Jr. was a freak of nature, athletically speaking. His rise to glory was based on the fact that his physical gifts were so numerous that he didn’t have to work as hard as the next guy.

Jon Jones works twice as hard, like Ali did, because he is not some uber-athlete.

I have no idea what a training camp must be like, but I imagine it is brutal from day one to day whatever. I also imagine that having self-confidence is a must when you are young and defying the odds.

There is nothing wrong with a fighter feeling that he has a destiny, nor is there anything wrong with a fighter being confident, especially when that confidence is well-founded.

Jones is still very young to the game and, having lost much in his life already, he is probably terrified of losing what he has. When people want to hold on to something, they may try just about any kind of philosophy in order to get a better grip.

So what if Jones doesn’t exactly fit what we consider to be the standard of humble? Who are we to say our standard is the right standard?

My point is that the difference between conceit and confidence is usually only seen in hindsight, and Jones is only looking into the future, quite possibly because the past is painful for him.

And as far as not signing a replica UFC championship belt, hell, I don’t think they should even make those. As long as he doesn’t stop signing autographs, he’ll be just fine.