By Scott Johnson
As everyone reading this already knows by now, the UFC Light Heavyweight championship has been vacated due to a recent hit and run incident involving Jon Jones that left a pregnant woman with a broken arm and other injuries. The news comes as…well, not very shocking to anyone that has been paying attention to the behavior of the former champion and it seems that his history of bad behavior has finally caught up to him as the UFC has stripped him of his title, removed him from their rankings and have “indefinitely suspended” him from competition.
Today we’re going to take a look at the effects that this incident has had in a fun segment that I’m stealing from former CP alumni: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
-UFC makes the right decision by vacating the title and suspending Jones
My first reaction upon hearing the news of Jones’ involvement in a hit-and-run accident was “Hmm…I wonder how Dana White is going to justify keeping him in the main event of UFC 187.” To my surprise, White announced last Tuesday that the UFC would be stripping him of the title and released the following statement:
UFC feels strongly that its athletes must uphold certain standards both in and out of The Octagon®. While there is disappointment in the recent charges, the organization remains supportive of Jones as he works through the legal process.
It was certainly refreshing to see the UFC take the right course of action after recent incidents like the Anderson Silva drug test debacle or the attempted rehiring of Thiago Silva. Let’s hope that the UFC continues on its course of taking the high road should…ok let’s be as real as it gets, *when* another fighter does something terribly stupid down the road.
-The LHW Title Picture becomes much more interesting
Although it may not have happened the way we wanted to (which I’ll be getting to later), the removal of the dominant champion opens up the opportunity for the other fighters in the division to get a taste of championship gold. Much like with the aforementioned Silva, there weren’t many contenders for the belt that could offer much of a challenge to Jon Jones. Should he have gone on to UFC 187 and defeated Anthony Johnson, there wouldn’t have been anyone else waiting in the wings outside of a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson, who came close to defeating the champion but then suffered a devastating KO loss to the current number one contender, leaving him to contemplate retirement. Gustafsson has since backpedaled on his retirement statement but one has to wonder the blow dealt to his confidence after the loss.
With Cormier replacing Jones in the title fight at UFC 187, which I can only imagine is leaving a much deserved sour taste in Bones’ mouth, we are now guaranteed to see a new champion emerge be it DC or Rumble. Regardless of who wins, it opens up a slew of new title matches to be booked while the slow build for a possible return and match up of the disgraced former champion. Hopefully, the UFC can use this angle to attract fans into spending their money on upcoming PPV events.
-An anticlimactic end to a dominant title run
One of the greatest parts of any long win streak is basking in the joy of watching someone end it. I’m sure more than a handful of people reading this article can remember exactly where they were when Anderson Silva’s six year title run came to a halt at the hands of Chris Weidman or when current interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum snapped Fedor’s nine year undefeated streak via triangle choke. As awesome as it is to see someone display complete and total domination at their game, it’s even more exciting when you’re there to see it come to an end and this is a moment that we as fans have been robbed of. For years, we’ve waited to see who would be the first to end Jones’ momentous undefeated streak (no, that horseshit DQ doesn’t count) but now that’s all come to an end thanks to a terribly stupid decision.
Rumors are swirling about whether or not Jones will retire after all of this, but if he return to action one day and pick up where he left off, whatever absence he takes from the cage will always serve to mark his streak with an asterisk.
-The UFC loses one of its few remaining draws
With Jones suspended, this leaves Ronda Rousey, and to a lesser degree, Conor McGregor as the only real draws left on its roster and they can only fight so many times a year. This doesn’t discount the amount of talent in the UFC as there are many interesting matchups to be had among the different divisions but talent doesn’t necessarily add up to PPV buys (See: Demetrious Johnson, Renan Barao, Benson Henderson). By taking Jones away from its already diminished pool of fighters with drawing power, the UFC is going to have to scramble to start making new stars for the future, although exactly how they can pull that off remains to be seen (medieval weapon fighting, perhaps?)
-A legacy tarnished
Regardless of what your personal opinion is of Jon Jones, there is no question that as a fighter, Bones was building one hell of a legacy as a MMA fighter. He had already built an eight year undefeated streak, become the youngest UFC champion in history and defended that title eight times consecutively. Now he’s added another historical fact to his resume by becoming the first UFC Champion to be stripped of his title as a disciplinary measure.
While the recent events will not diminish the accomplishments already made by Jones, they most certainly slam the brakes on the legacy that he was building and no matter what happens from this point on, his bad behavior, and most specifically this hit and run incident will most certainly become a talking point anytime anyone ever brings up Bones in a conversation of great MMA fighters, much like Tyson’s rape conviction will always overshadow all of the amazing feats he accomplished prior.
While Jones will certainly be a name mentioned as one of the greatest fighters in MMA’s ever growing history, what could have been the story of the greatest fighter in MMA will now be tarnished and told as a fighter with limitless potential that screwed it all up with a series of bad decisions. It’s a sad way for the Bones saga to end and hopefully he will use this to improve himself and become a better human being.