The UFC's youngest title holder has gone from being on top of the fighting inside the cage to defending his name out of it.
Roughly 18 months ago, Jon "Bones" Jones was at the height of his career, most notably on March 19, 2011, the day of UFC 128.
Before a title fight against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, Jones and his coaches were at a nearby park meditating and preparing for the fight that night when they witnessed a robbery in progress.
Without hesitation, the then 23-year-old fighter tracked down the robber and subdued him while waiting for police to arrive.
Jones was regarded as a hero for his dauntless actions on the streets of Newark that day.
That night, Jones defeated Rua by TKO at 2:37 of Round 3, becoming the youngest UFC champion in the history of the sport.
After being forced to pull out of a fight against Rashad Evans due to a hand injury at UFC 133, Jones defended his title against former light heavyweight champ Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, with Rampage tapping out in the fourth round.
After overpowering Lyoto Machida at UFC 140 and handing Machida his first career loss by submission in the second round, and after defeating Rashad Evans in a unanimous decision at UFC 145, Jones was regarded as the best mixed martial arts fighter around.
His reputation has since taken a hit.
Jones was scheduled to fight Dan Henderson at UFC 151, but after Henderson pulled out of the fight, Jones unexpectedly refused to fight Henderson's replacement, Chael Sonnen.
Jones took to Twitter to apologize to fans:
Carrying the cross for my company's decision. If someone has to take the blame, I will accept full responsibility for the way UFC 151— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 25, 2012
was canceled. I want to sincerely apologize to all the other athletes/fans who's time and money was waisted. (sic)— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 25, 2012
I feel terrible about the way that was handled.— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 25, 2012
While Jones' camp was worried that 8 days wasn't enough time to prepare for the fight, Henderson was busy trying to keep an injury under wraps so that he wouldn't be pulled from the fight.
Jones still held out of the fight—a move that has everyone, including myself, questioning the toughness and desire of Bones Jones.
What ensued from there was a war of words between Jones and Sonnen, which can be seen via Yahoo! Sports.
By turning down the fight with Sonnen, Jones lost the respect of UFC president Dana White and no longer has the president in his corner.
You don't often rebuff Dana White and get away with it. The decision of Jon Jones was certainly unprecedented, and while Dana White has since come out and stated he does not "hate" Jon Jones, it will be interesting to see if there is any future fallout from the incident.
Jones' first steps to getting back in the good graces of the UFC world will come on September 22 when he defends his belt against Brazilian Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 in Toronto.
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