Tony Gervino has an excellent feature of UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones in the The New York Times, profiling how his unique upbringing has shaped the talent we see today. Outnumbered and outweighed by future NFL star brothers, Jones learned early how to deal with pressure. Using a makeshift ring built by their father, a former all-city wrestler, brothers Jones would spend hours battling each other in the basement.
In a home that forbade cable and secular music, the boys found whatever excitement they could locked in the clutches of teenage combat.
"Dad found some spongy material somewhere that was soft enough to wrestle on," Jones said. "The sponge had blood all over it, sweat all over it, stained up with everything."
"While other kids were at summer camp," Jones said, "our camp was every day at home, tussling in that basement."
Arthur Jones, 26 and a lineman for the Baltimore Ravens seemed the most gifted wrestler, while brother Chandler, 23, also an NFL defensive end, the more naturally talented athlete. Jon, seemingly out of step with the two, earned the moniker 'Bones' due to his gangly, adolescent frame.
"Well, he wasn’t the best football player to begin with," Arthur said. "And one day, he showed up at practice with these big shoulder pads, big elbow pads, with those skinny little chicken legs."
Chandler finished the story, "He looked like a bag of bones, and so he became Jonny Bones."
After failing to qualify for a big-time wrestling scholarship and winning the 197-pound national junior college championship in 2006 at Iowa Central Community College, Jones transfered to Morrisville State College in upstate New York to begin a path towards law enforcement. Priorities would shrift during his sophomore year with the news that his longtime girlfriend, Jessie Moses, had become pregnant with the couple's first child.
Just short of his degree, Jones was forced to leave school while he looked for work as a nightclub bouncer. He was even close to taking a full-time position as a janitor at Lockheed Martin in search of coveted health benefits. Fate would intervene in the form of a random tweet from a stranger. After seeing Jones' profile picture, this individual suggested to Jones that he check out Bombsquad M.M.A. in Cortland, N.Y. Jones obliged, making his profesional debut in Apr. 2008.
Quickly racking up a record of 7-0 in just four months, Jones made his UFC debut against undefeated Andre Gusmao in August 2008. It wouldn't take long to garner the praise and attention he'd always hoped for.
"I’ll tell you what: Jon Jones has a ton of potential," Rogan said during the television broadcast. "For a kid who only has nine months of mixed martial arts training, it’s impressive. I expect to see great things from him."
Millionaires all, the Jones brothers are as competitive as ever, arguing over things as trivial as their respective legions of Twitter followers.
"Every time we see each other, it’s not like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ " Chandler said. "It’s more like Jon giving me a charley horse to get the remote."
Arthur added, "Oh, we still get into it, always wrestling and fighting over something."