Following UFC 128, I felt a range of emotions. First I felt sad, then miserable, and then suicidal. Okay, maybe not suicidal, but, as a big fan of Shogun, I was not happy. But after a few hours of thinking this through, I must admit, Jon Jones didn't just beat Shogun, he mauled him. Jon Jones manhandled Shogun, something that had never been done before. This alone, would be enough to be crowned a star, but with the knowledge that Jones is only 23 years of age, makes his victory just that much more spectacular.
Now, I am relatively new to MMA. I only became a big fan of MMA around time for UFC 90. But since then, I've watched every DREAM and Strikeforce event, and many of Sengoku and M-1 Global shows as well. I am also a fan of the sport of boxing. However, I kinda took the opposite route in becoming a boxing fan, I was an MMA fan before a boxing fan. I enjoy both sports equally, and could never pick one over the other. I also think comparing to two sports is useless. They're both too different, it's apples to oranges.
With that said, what irked me most was Joe Rogan and Dana White's repeated attempts at comparing Jon Jones to Mike Tyson. Now that has been discussed on this site numerous times since yesterday. But Jonathan Snowden hit the nail on the head with his article from yesterday:
It's easy to forget what a cultural phenomenon Tyson was. Sure, Jones has done well in just three years as a professional fighter. But remember this - just fourteen months into his professional career Tyson was headlining in Madison Square Garden against Mitch "Blood" Green. Two years into his career Nintendo released Mike Tyson's Punch Out, an iconic video game played by millions. Soon after Tyson was immortalized in song by no less than Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. In short, Tyson was a legitimate cultural phenomenon.Not only was he the biggest drawing card in boxing, he was bigger than boxing.
Jones is nowhere near the level of stardom at which there are video games being made based solely on his name. But what's more is that Jon Jones, the person, is nothing like Mike Tyson. Wherever Tyson went, controversy was sure to follow, wherever Jones goes, purse snatchers shake in their boots. Quite different. Don't get me wrong, Jon Jones has charisma, and he can sell, but can you imagine what would happen if he said that his opponent will die in the ring? Remember the last time that happened? Jones charisma is more like, he's a nice guy who seems to work hard and seems like a cool guy too. Tyson was a guy you don't want to fuck with.
Another incorrect comparison has been previously made between Jon Jones and another boxer. That other boxer is Muhammad Ali. But, Muhammad Ali was not just a boxer. He was a social phenomenon. Muhammad Ali was a symbol of standing up for what you believe in. He connected with people that never thought of watching boxing. That was Ali, outspoken, and not afraid of what others thought of him. In the ring, Muhammad Ali was similar, he fought, sometimes with his hands low, and taunting his opponent. That was his personality. He wanted to be heard, and didn`t care if he was politically correct or not.
"Not only will [Jon Jones] become a champion, he will become the Muhammad Ali of our organization."
This quote is from Bruce Buffer. Pretty balsy statement. I mean Jones is a tremendous talent, without a doubt. But can you imagine Jon Jones bragging about ever preaching at a Ku Klux Klan meeting (Go to 4:30 mark). If that ever happened, Dana White would hang himself. The chances of having MMA legalized in New York would be substantially lessened, and Mixed Martial Arts would be brought to the knees of the public, begging for forgiveness. The only reason that didn`t happen was because Ali was bigger than boxing. Jones is not bigger than MMA. No fighter, at the moment, is. Not Georges St. Pierre, not Anderson Silva, no one.
As charismatic and dominant as Jones has been, he`s never going to be Muhammad Ali, or Mike Tyson. The personalities are polar opposites. If Jon Jones does have a parallel in boxing, it`s none other than Roy Jones Jr. Whereas Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson were fundamentally sound, Roy Jones did everything wrong, but got away with it. Why? Raw athleticism. Sound similar? Yeah. Jon Jones is not a sound striker, he`s very flawed. Yet look where his unorthodox style has taken him. Both Jon and Roy are freak athletes. Whereas Jon Jones is stopping purse snatchers before his fights, Roy Jones was playing minor league basketball games before his fights. One more thing. Jon Jones only loss so far in his short career is a DQ loss. Roy Jones only loss until he was 35 years old was a DQ loss to Montell Griffin, which was avenged via vicious first round KO. I think we can safely say a similar result would be expected if Jon Jones faced Matt Hamill again.
Jones may transcend MMA, but he`s not about to be a cultural phenomenon. He`s too normal, and nice a guy to accomplish that. Unlike Tyson and Ali, Jones is reserved and self-aware. Roy Jones was also not to much of a talker himself. He did his best braggadocio in the ring, instead of out. Not that Jon Jones mocks his opponents. Let`s just hope he doesn`t put out a terrible rap CD of his own.