Are we being too hard on UFC champion Jon Jones?
Just under two years into his reign at the top of the light heavyweight division, it seems like most mixed martial arts fans have turned on him.
Jones' videos are negatively rated on YouTube, he's booed at weigh-ins and most hardcore fans on the Internet ridicule him at every chance. His every word is dissected for "fakeness" or hypocrisy, his every action is analyzed across the Internet, and even inside the cage, he's derided for using so-called unfair tactics.
We've already addressed the argument that Jones is a cheap, dishonorable fighter.
But as far as his personality and public image is concerned, aren't we expecting a bit much from someone who just turned old enough to rent a car?
(Note: Jon Jones technically can't rent a car with his suspended license.)
How smart were any of us at 25 years old? Didn't we make mistakes and say outlandish things that we would rather forget?
Sure, Jones does a good job attracting such scrutiny simply by the nature of his job, but why does he rile up fans so much with relatively little effort? Before we judge him, maybe we should give "Bones" a few more years to test positive for steroids or go on a vehicular rampage down a public highway.
Even the UFC 151 fallout can't be blamed entirely on him.
And yet, the company's entire PR team painted him as the villain for making a sensible, self-preserving decision, as unpopular as it may have been. That's easy to do when Jones' own PR agent quit working for him just a week prior.
Jones is incredibly young to have the kind of responsibility that he does. He's the face of the UFC, one of his gym's top athletes and a budding star in the professional sports world.
So, maybe we can cut him a little slack for interviews where he might say things he really doesn't mean at the time.
Perhaps, we can forgive him for being so cocky when he's essentially torn through everyone he's ever faced inside of the Octagon. Perhaps, we can step back and realize that Jones is way too young for us to judge him on a few years of a potentially long MMA career and title reign.
Or maybe, he's old enough to be responsible for all his words and all his mistakes.
Either way, Jon Jones is about as mature as one can be for his age and background. Expecting anything else from a 25-year-old (with a drunk driving record) who beats up people for a living is truly a fool's errand.