Baby steps, Bones. Just take baby steps.
In his first-round knockout of Chael Sonnen at UFC 159, Jon Jones suffered a gruesome toe dislocation on his left foot. He's since had the toe repaired and sent a picture of it to his Twitter followers:
Got my big toe back intact :) twitter.com/JonnyBones/sta…— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) April 28, 2013
With that out of the way, Jones now faces the hard part: rehab.
It's not a question of whether or not Jones will do the work necessary in order to return just as good as he was, if not better, before the injury. The issue is when he will start to do that work.
As with any competitive athlete, the desire to get back to work will be great. Unfortunately for him, he has to do the one thing he's trained himself to hardly ever do—sit at home and relax.
Jones is arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He didn't get there by sitting at home and occasionally showing up in the Octagon. The idea of being immobilized for weeks on end is an idea that's completely foreign to him.
No matter how much Jones wants to return, he can't afford to rush the rehab process. He'll only do more damage to his toe.
Will this toe injury have a major impact on Jon Jones' career?
A big toe is critical in something like mixed martial arts. That one little appendage carries massive importance for a fighter. Even someone with Jones' talent will struggle with a big toe injury. You need to have it strong in order to be mobile and balanced around the Octagon and get the leverage necessary on attacking movements.
If Jones starts training before he's ready, his big toe will not have enough time to properly heal. He could still remain a talented fighter simply because of how much better he is than the competition, but the gulf in class will begin to narrow. Jones would go from being a great fighter to just a good, maybe very good, fighter.
Coming back early would open him up for a loss in his return fight. Should that happen, he'll be itching to get back. The toe will continue to be an issue as it won't have a chance to strengthen.
Not to say that Jones should retire, but, at this point, there isn't much for him to prove. He doesn't have a loss to Sonnen or another fighter to avenge. There isn't anyone claiming he doesn't deserve to wear the UFC light heavyweight championship. And he's only 25 years old. He still has plenty of years ahead of him.
There is no immediate need for Jones to return to the Octagon. He can wait months to start training again and working toward his next fight.
Fans can wish Jones a speedy recovery, but it's more important that he has a healthy and full recovery than a quick one.