Ok so I'm new here. I've lurked for a while but I'm still technically in my BE infancy. I've also spent some time with a person that seems to be fairly polarizing on BE: Jon Jones. I'm writing this at work so it might be kinda ramble-y and for sake of internet anonymity and not pissing off any former coaches/training partners (life pro tip: don't make people who kick ass for fun/a living mad at you) i can't be as totally forthcoming as I'd like.
I first met Jon in high school. I met him because we wrestled in the same section (section iv never die!). I actually met Art first then Jon later. We all did freestyle/greco with the same club. I've mentioned this on other posts but Art was hands down a better wrestler but his passion was football. That's not to say Jon wasn't an absolute standout wrestling. One year at sectionals he walked out onto the mat, grabbed the other guy by his shoulders, foot swept him and pinned all before they had finished announcing his name and record. There's been some question about how much of his game is wrestling and how much is judo; it's all wrestling. Being tall in a weight class allows/forces you to use some different techniques. The foot sweeps, inside trips, and 5 point throws are all good old fashioned section IV and shamrock freestyle wrestling.
A friend of mine that i went to college with went to Endicott with Jon, Art, and Chandler. He told me a story about how Jon's HS wrestling coach picked him up from a house party and took Jon to Art's football game and gave him this whole long spiel about how he wishes Jon cared about wrestling as much as Art cared about football and how he could be so good and what not. At freestyle i was never very close with Jon or Art because they were pretty close with a guy i hated and i was lighter than them so i work more closely with guys my size.
Because MMA is still not legal in NY there's not a lot of gym's to train at let alone quality gyms so everyone tends to gravitate to a couple good ones and it just so happened that i lived near, and got to train at, the best one. After Jon left the community college in Iowa he came home and was training at Bombsquad at the same time i was. Heres where we get to the stuff everyone is going to ask about:
Jon was absolutely frustrating to train with. Because i was the next biggest guy with a decent ground game it was on me to work on the ground with him. He always wanted to try new things but had no patience. He refused to just put in the repetitions of the basics. instead of just doing warmups and sitting up into a kimura's alternating sides he would frame up a kimura, try to spin around on his back, and do some shaq-fu weird shit. He was just impossible to guide. I think it's a common problem with gifted athletes. They're so naturally good at stuff that they don't want to put in the effort to get fundamentally better. He had no concept of jiu jitsu space. Wrestling space is completely different that jiu jitsu space so he'd always end up leaving an arm or a leg out to get snatched up for a sub or a sweep and a way out. If you locked up an arm bar and tried to coach him through how to defend he would just spaz out and dump you on your head. If you grabbed a straight ankle lock he would "accidentally" kick you in the face. In his defense if you caught him in something we wanted to learn it but he never wanted to learn it on a fundamental level.
Sparring with him was a nightmare. 60% meant 90% to him. The spinning elbows and flashy kicks you see? Those weren't just something he came up with on his own. They got used in practice going full speed. He didn't have a whole lot of regard for his team mates and sparing partners. He'd want to do light shadowboxing, footwork and sock you in the mouth without a mouthpiece in or gloves on. He was always interested in coming up with new moves and concepts. This was the era of the KenFlo cheater tomahawk elbow from guard which was something the would do in practice all the time. Light rolling? spike elbow to the top of the head. Positional drills? spike elbow to the top of the head. The 12-6 elbows he did on Hamil? ALL THE GOD DAMN TIME IN PRACTICE. People would tell him it'd illegal and he'd say "no it's not, it's arcing at the end". The dude just didn't like to listen all of the time.
He'd show up late to practice or not show up at all. There were times when I'd come to the gym early to specifically work on basics with him and he wouldn't come so I'd just be hanging out for 2 extra hours. When Phil Davis and Paul Bradley we in town to work with him specifically he didn't show up. This brings another point. There's alot of mental coaching for a good fighter. Telling them their the best, building them up in practice and such. He ate it up. He was a bit of a megalomaniac. He always he the "waiter" act. He'd talk about being humble and pretend to be nice and act like he was a good guy, then he'd swipe you're hand wraps or water bottle (the hand wraps were mine... this is after he fought Bonnar so it wasn't like he was hurting for cash for training gear and he swiped my extra hand wraps). He'd show up without his gear and just grab whoever was hanging around. He'd take John Franchi's (wec featherweight) 12 oz gloves and use them for an afternoon practice. Speaking of Franchi he outspokenly hated Jon. The story goes (i wasn't there) that Jon and John got drunk after a fight. Franchi being the sweetie he is told Jon to punch him. Jon obliged and knocked Franchi out cold. I'm not saying that he was out of line, but if you weigh 230 and a featherweight wants you to punch them maybe you just take a minuet and be the bigger man (literally). As long as I'm in the "stories i head but wasn't directly there for" part of the post Mike Massenzio knocked Jon out cold at a practice in Paterson NJ.
I don't want it to sound like i hate Jon or anything. I'm really glad for the experience of getting to work with him but all of the stuff people say about him or think about him is mostly true. He is kinda two faced, he does have a suspect chin (though to be honest Mike Massenzio hits like a god damn mule) and he doesn't react well to submission threats/used to have bad sub defense. Alot of the things i saw in Jon i figured had been addressed/changed at Jackson's and some of his pr problems/personality traits i figured he'd grown out of.
There is alot of stuff i kinda glossed over but I'll answer any questions in the comments.