Jon Jones' run through the light heavyweight division has been nothing short of historic.
We've analyzed his run many times, but let's do a quick recap: Since winning the title from Mauricio Rua on March 19, 2011, Jones has defeated three top-tier light heavyweights. Including Rua, Jones finished three of those fighters—Rua, Lyoto Machida and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. He also defeated Rashad Evans by decision with ease.
All four of those fighters were, at the time they stepped in the cage with Jones, considered some of the best fighters in the world. All four of them were made to look like rank amateurs by Jones.
Jones is something special, the kind of fighter that comes around once in a lifetime. Fans of the sport should be enjoying this moment and relishing the chances they are afforded to watch him work his brand of magic in the cage.
But that's not the case, is it?
Instead of focusing on what Jones is when he's in the cage—a spectacular and singular athlete—fans seem more concerned with what Jones might be outside the cage. And I say "might be" because the only people who really know the real Jon Jones are those closest to him, and the fans and media—despite what we may think—don't fall into that category.
I've seen this scene before. An athlete reaches the top of the mountain, making the journey look easy, and suddenly the fans—who were wowed by his talent on the way to the top—abandon ship with zest. They find reasons to hate him, and when reasons don't exist, they'll just make them up.
Maybe you think he's egotistical. And yeah, Jones definitely has an ego. But answer me this: how many of the best athletes in history—the guys who elevated their sport to new heights and did things previously thought impossible—didn't have an ego of their own?
Michael Jordan had an ego. Boy, did he ever. Jordan was great, and he knew it. He'd get wildly offended at the notion that anyone else on the planet played the game of basketball anywhere near his level. And then he'd go out on the court and prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Maybe you don't like the way Jones behaves in his personal life. But again, nobody outside of Jones' close friends and family really know who he is. We know what we see reported in the media, but that's usually just one version of the truth. And sure, we know he wrecked his very expensive sports car and was given a DUI.
But we also know that no one among us is perfect. Jones is a very public figure and an athlete of the highest caliber, but at the end of the day he's also just a young kid with a lot of money. He's bound to make mistakes. If I were young and rich, I'd probably do a lot of stupid things, too. Considering how fast Jones has gone from a broke college dropout to a world champion with one of the brightest futures in the sport, I'd say he's still doing pretty well in terms of his public image.
At the end of the day, I don't really care what Jones does outside the cage, so long as he's not putting others in danger. Yes, the DUI incident clearly put the lives of other drivers in jeopardy. It was a stupid move and a needless risk. But it was also a moment for Jones to learn a very important lesson, and as long as he learns that lesson, I see no reason to hold it against him until the end of time.
What I truly care about is what I see in the cage, and what I've seen thus far has been remarkable. I think fans around the world should take a step back and realize that we're seeing the ascension of a truly remarkable athlete. We should appreciate it, and we shouldn't spend our time finding reasons to hate him.