In a world where everyone wants to be a hero, Jon Jones appears to finally be warming up to the idea that destiny may have laid out a different path for him.
Following his unanimous-decision win over Glover Teixeira at UFC 172, Jones seems to finally be accepting the role he was forced into.
He has sat idly for weeks while the MMA world has chastised him for being a cheater. During an appearance on Inside MMA, former UFC heavyweight champ Bas Rutten even went as far as calling him a “dirty fighter” for the eye pokes used on Teixeira.
If a picture says a thousand words, Jones answered all of his critics in one fell swoop on Instagram:
I learned the eye gouge from the father of mma. #dirtiestfighterever #eyepokes #greatest #dirtiest #blackeye #redeye #captainhook #colombia #worldwide #brucelee #aintcheatingainttrying #favoritetechnique #gregtoldmeidgetfans #goodenoughforbrucegoodenoughforme #Bassaidimdirty #chucksmad #phillost #simethingforthehater
The biggest takeaway from the photo has to be the hashtags. Jones continues to poke fun at Phil Davis for losing to Anthony Johnson at UFC 172. He even takes a shot at Teixeira’s mentor, UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell.
The UFC light heavyweight champ has tried saying all the right things and being respectful, but none of those typically adored mannerisms have gotten him very far with MMA fans. Sure, the 26-year-old superstar hasn’t always helped his own cause, thanks to several hapless incidents that have occurred over the years.
There was the whole TMZ and DUI incident back in May 2012. An entire event—UFC 151 to be exact—was cancelled for the first time in UFC history because Jones refused to take a last-minute fight with Chael Sonnen. There was also the mysterious case of the missing phone, and homophobic taunts on Instagram.
From a bird’s eyrie, these could be considered common headaches that tend to take place in the career of a young athlete who has accumulated mountainous wealth.
But for whatever reason, the microscope for judgment has been magnified to a harsher degree for Jones. Perhaps Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis was on to something when MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani asked him why he disliked Jones.
“I don’t dislike him. It’s his face, I don’t like his face. If he could just put on a different face, I’d like that much better,” said Davis.
The bottom line is, people always seem to find a way to nitpick a reason why they don’t like Jones. The mere idea of being the “bad guy” didn’t sit well with Jones early on, and every vain attempt to right the ship has come off as forced and rehearsed.
Sometimes the best advice can come from the most unexpected places. Speaking with MMAJunkie’s Steven Marrocco, UFC light heavyweight contender Daniel Cormier put everything into perspective by explaining the reality of the situation:
If I was Jon Jones, being that people seem to want to dislike him, I would go 100 percent Floyd Mayweather Jr. He wins all the time, and people dislike him, but they always tune into see him. People want to believe Jon’s not being 100 percent real with us. They’re thinking that we’re seeing kind of an act, so give them you. If they believe you’re a complete ass, then just be an ass.
…They’ll watch to hope that you lose, but at the end of the day, you’ll still be winning, because Floyd Mayweather makes $40 million every time he fights. At the end of the day, that is winning.
Sometimes you live long enough to see yourself become a villain. Perhaps that time is now for Jon Jones.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.