Marcus Jones was one of the biggest redeeming features on what was an otherwise mediocre season of the The Ultimate Fighter reality show this season.
Jones came off as a likable and fascinating character. An intimidating physical presence of a 6'6" former NFLer, Jones came into the show looking like a crushing machine.
It didn't take long, however, for his soft side to become exposed, as he earned the nickname "Big Baby" by seeming to be more like a cuddly bear than a raging bull. Outside of the cage he was a gentle giant, and inside it he was almost like a manchild who beheld the world of MMA with childlike wonder.
It would have been hard for the TUF executives to have constructed a better character, yet I believe that Jones was the real deal. A real gentle giant.
He did have his angry side, but that only made him all the more complex.
Unfortunately for him, as fearsome as he looked through two rounds of the competition, he simply didn't have the stand-up skills or the chin to last against Brendan Schaub.
It was sad to see him get knocked out and sadder still to hear him proclaim that he was probably done with fighting.
Of course, after taking some time to think about it, he did change his mind, appearing on the TUF finale to face fellow former NFLer Matt Mitrione only to be knocked out yet again.
This time, though, I really do hope that he retires from fighting.
Fighting again would be to take an unnecessary risk with his health and well-being with little to gain. He's 35 years old, so he doesn't have the time or even the reflexes left in order to improve his defense enough to be able to avoid getting knocked out again.
Were he in his twenties, maybe it would be a different story, but even then, given how brutal the knockouts were, I wouldn't recommend another fight.
Fortunately, the future doesn't need to be completely devoid of combative sports for Jones. He can continue to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, where there is still the combative element but less chance for permanent physical impairment.
For the competitive athlete, there might always be that lingering question of "what if?" I hope for his health that Marcus Jones is OK letting that question go unanswered.