Jon Jones and His Twitter Timeline: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
A celebrity life unfurled on Twitter knows no gray area. You're either awesome or terrible. A hero or a troll. The highest or the lowest. And what's more, the wild swings get to swinging with little to no warning.
In the MMA world, UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones has comfortable homes built on both of these poles.
A lightning rod for love and hate in the brick-and-mortar world, Jones is even more susceptible in cyberspace.
I'm not going to lie. He appears to bring both on himself, thanks in part to a sense of PR savvy that doesn't regularly extend beyond his own front door.
Here, in a nutshell, are examples of Jones at his best, worst, and ugliest on that most social of social media platforms. As the Jones hype gains a new gear in advance of next weekend's title defense against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165, it seems there could be more examples forthcoming. But in the meantime, here's a primer.
Good: Trading Barbs with Other Fighters
He doesn't have Chael Sonnen's gift of gab (who does?), but in his own way he's a pretty effective trash talker. He's supremely confident—cocky, perhaps—and responds to threats and taunts with a mixture of eerie calm and thinly veiled irritation.
Take his barbs for Glover Teixeira earlier this month, in response to the next title challenger (and his fans) charging that Teixeira had the tools to defeat Jones.
I don't mind people thinking I'm going to lose just come at me with something logical— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) September 5, 2013
Or, try his verbal skirmish with UFC 165 opponent Alexander Gustafsson on for size. Here's a taste:
One of Alexander's coaches said they would take my soul. That's my motivation!— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 1, 2013
I'm going to put your coaches foot right in his mouth. This is now personal, let's play— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 1, 2013
Bad: When He Gets a Little Preachy
Jones can seem a bit holier than thou at times.
Here he is offering some unsolicited parenting advice:
Be careful what you and your kids are listening to ladies and gentlemen.. Some of this stuff is straight pollution— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 26, 2013
Here he is being self-righteous for no apparent reason:
I refuse to be weakened by my own success— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 16, 2013
Ugly: UFC 151
Without a doubt, the nadir of Jon Jones' careers in the Twitter- and the MMA-verses.
As you know, UFC 151 was canceled just a week before it was scheduled to happen after Dan Henderson backed out of his fight with Jones, and Jones subsequently refused to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice. (Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua also failed to step up when asked to do so.)
First, Jones compared himself to Jesus:
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
Then, he seemed to blame the UFC's "handling" of the situation:
I feel terrible about the way that was handled.— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 25, 2012
Then, he pointed the finger at Henderson:
You get the idea. The episode was a self-portrait of a spoiled athlete blaming everyone but himself. And the medium was Twitter.
Good: Showing Love to the Fans
I'm not going to get into some cynicism contest here. It doesn't matter how "genuine" I think it is or isn't. All I know is, Jon Jones spends a lot of time on Twitter interacting with and retweeting his fans. Not every fighter does that. In fact, many don't.
After, by my count, about 40 consecutive fan retweets. A little obnoxious to other followers, sure, but not for those guys:
Sorry to my followers for all the re-tweets. I have tons of love tonight for everyone— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 24, 2013
This was a touching Tweet for a young boy who lost his life after struggling with an illness:
R.I.P Mando.. Thank you for your love and support http://t.co/CMujTdZxYC— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 12, 2013
And call me sappy, but I've always enjoyed Jones' simple but consistent greeting tweets to his followers. Seriously, who else takes the time to do this on a regular basis?
Sure, sometimes it lapses into gym-rat pablum, but he stays away from that a lot more effectively than plenty of other guys:
Hope you all are having a great day so far— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 8, 2013
I love interacting with my fans! I will be on here for about 20 more minutes. What's up twitter world?— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 23, 2013
Hope you had a great weekend.— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) July 22, 2013
Bad: Plugging Away
You'd think it was the official Twitter feed for Nike. And X. And X. And any other company that tickles his fancy or tosses Bones a bone.
Some of the more egregious and/or recent examples include:
Shout out to Sportsmens Elite El Paso Texas.. Had a blast on the range a week ago, just wanted to say thanks again— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 31, 2013
Hey guys I'm in El Paso with my friends & most awesome news anchor ever please like her FB page - Erika Castillo KFOX News.
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 24, 2013
Ugly: That "Skinny Fat" Photo
Good: Letting Followers Behind the Curtain
OK, one extra "good" for the champ here.
He won't be accused of being a PR maven anytime soon, but he does have a natural penchant for perfectly walking the fine line between sharing with followers without over-sharing, supporting friends and teammates without name-dropping, criticizing without trolling.
Jones wants to be candid and he wants to let people in. He wants to hear your opinions on movies. Seriously. In this world of soundbites and Bill Belichick, shouldn't all of that be welcomed, warts and all?
A few examples:
Bader got way too excited.. Cost him that fight.. Gotta stay relaxed out there— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) September 5, 2013
You are one bad man.. Honored to be your teammate @CarlosCondit— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 29, 2013
After former coaching rival and in-cage opponent Chael Sonnen defeated Mauricio "Shogun" Rua on fight night:
Not bad Chael— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 18, 2013
Phil got two takedowns and was the aggressor, Lyoto clearly landed the more significant strikes. Tough one to judge— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 5, 2013
Want to talk to the UFC about getting me over to the UK more often. MMA is just waiting to explode over there, need more ambassadors— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 5, 2013
Just got home, finally getting a chance to watch the fight. I must say I was wrong. Chris Weidman fought a beautiful fight. Congratulations— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) July 8, 2013
It was "Die Hard" in the White House, champ:
What did you guys think about the movie White House down, I just watched it— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) July 3, 2013