Jon Jones – Damned
If there was a news report that Jon Jones ran into a burning building and saved 30 orphans, there is a contingent of people who would just say that he broke the speed limit to get there, complain that he didn't park his car properly once there, and then call him arrogant for not standing back and letting the fire fighters do their job.
Oh, and he didn't run back inside to save the goldfish on the third floor.
Is that an exaggeration? Yes, but I don't think it's too much of one. No matter what he says or does, some people will always find fault in his actions, basically nitpicking because they just can't stand the guy for one reason another.
If Jones gives an interview and the subject of a fight with Daniel Cormier comes up, if he says something non-committal or dismissive, then he's called cocky for overlooking such a dangerous opponent. The fact that both fighters are currently in different weight classes, which makes talk of a fight rather pointless, is ignored in favor of turning it into a fresh piece of hatesteak to chew on.
I'm not saying Jones is a perfect angel, I don't agree with his refusal to sign replica belts nor was I very taken with him signing autographs with "Champion 2011" before the fight with Shogun took place. I also won't make excuses for his DWI case, but he paid his fine and hopefully he's learned his lesson and won't make the same mistake in the future.
I can see these sort of things as being legitimate gripes someone could have with him, but there have been many more times when it seems like they're just grasping at straws. Often you'll hear something like this as an example...
"He's just another dull Greg Jackson point fighter! He's traded in his flashy elbow strikes for oblique kicks which should be illegal, and he only wins because he has such an unfair size advantage over everyone else!"
1: Out of Jones' 19 fights to date, he's only gone to the scorecards three times, and two of those fights took place before he ever hooked up with Jackson. With the exception of the Matt Hamill fight, he's put everyone else away with his striking or just outright submitted them.
2: Yes, he doesn't throw nearly the same number of spinning elbows as he used to, but if you take a second to actually think about it, there's a good reason for it. He's not a rookie anymore, he's the champion, not only is he facing the best in the world (most of the time) instead of guys like Stephan Bonnar, but his opponents now have tons of footage of him to study. It used to be the other way around.
Quinton Jackson saw the elbow coming when he was backed up against the cage, he couldn't do anything about it, but he saw it coming. Lyoto Machida saw it coming and was able to avoid it. And I don't recall him ever trying it against Rashad Evans. My point is, it worked very well when he was an unknown entity, but now everyone knows the trick and he would be a fool to use it as much as he did in the past.
3: I have bad knees, so I cringe every time I see Jones land an oblique kick, I really do. But I think it's just sour grapes when people call for the move to be banned simply because he's mastered how to use it while his opponents can't adapt. It's not like he's exploiting a loophole in the rules (like what classifies as a "downed opponent"), he's using a legal technique to its maximum effectiveness, it's not his fault the person across the cage just stands there and lets it happen.
As for his size advantage being his only reason for winning, that's just pure BS, anyone who's followed MMA for any length of time knows that size isn't everything. If size was all that mattered then you wouldn't have seen Cain Velasquez make Brock Lesnar look like a drunken break dancer, nor would you have seen Frankie Edgar turn Gray Maynard's lights out. Yes, size always plays a factor, but you can't pretend that he's not possibly one of the most skilled fighters to ever step into the cage.
And let me ask you, if size really was everything, then why has Stefan Struve been put to sleep and had his jaw turned to goo several times? Because he can't figure out how to use his reach anywhere near as effectively as Jones has. If Struve had the same skill set that Jones does, we might be talking about him as the undisputed Heavyweight kingpin and not Dos Santos or Velasquez.
I have a laundry list of accusations that have been lobbed at him over the last few years, but I'll only touch on one more before signing off. It's the one people still call him a mean old doodie head for, it's his fight with Lyoto at UFC 140, or rather it's what he did/didn't do when it was over. If you never saw it or don't remember it, here's the video.
Jones has Lyoto in a guillotine and once John McCarthy sees that he's gone totally limp, he yells "STOP RIGHT THERE!". Jones lets go and walks to his corner and Lyoto falls to the mat like a sack of drowned kittens. While that finish did provide a somewhat disturbing picture of Machida with his eyes rolled back in his head, it also gave Jones' detractors a big pile of ammunition to use against him.
Over the next few days many many people were calling for his head over this. In their eyes, letting The Dragon just crash to the mat like he did was a clear sign of disrespect on Jones' part, he knew Lyoto was out and didn't care if he got hurt even more when he fell. He should have been looking out for Lyoto's safety, not just strutted away "like a boss".
Far as I know, the rules say that when the ref says "stop/break it up", you do as you're told.
If Jones had held onto Lyoto for a few more seconds just to lay him down gently, I'm fairly certain the same people would have also called this a sign of disrespect because Lyoto is a grown man and didn't need to be treated like a slumbering baby. They also would have jumped on him for violating the rules by not disengaging when ordered to.
Now my Google skills are a little weak in this area, but I can't find any evidence of Lyoto saying he was angry or felt disrespected by Jones in the aftermath. He did say he was disappointed in his performance, but there wasn't a single negative word said about Jon. If someone reading this knows of an interview where Lyoto said something specifically like "I do not feel disrespected by Jones" then please let me know .
So there you have it. I believe that Jon Jones, no matter what he says or does in the future, be it inside or outside of the cage, will forever be subjected to an undeserved and absurd level of scrutiny by some MMA fans.
He's damned if he does, and he's damned if he doesn't.