As one of the most undeniably talented and dominant fighters in the history of MMA, it’s ironic that much of the latter half of Jon Jones’ career has ended up as more of a stress test on the UFC’s patience than a celebration of the long-reigning light heavyweight champion’s achievements. Every time he seems poised to reboot his image with a thrilling fight he finds a way to rebuff that success with severe lapses of judgement and character outside the cage.
The latest of those is not, perhaps, the most severe. But maybe all the more notable for the fact that getting arrested on DWI, open container, and firearms negligence charges seems a little too normal for Jon Jones. It’s part of an ongoing series of events that includes a 2012 DUI (in which he also crashed his car into a telephone pole), a 2015 hit and run incident, and an incident just last year involving a strip club waitress in which Jones ended up pleading ‘no contest’ to a charge of disorderly conduct.
Given all that, maybe it’s time for the UFC to step in and lay down some kind of ultimatum for Jones, sort of a ‘get your life together, or we’ll really come down hard one you’ stance. On a recent episode of the Crooklyn’s Corner podcast, UFC bantamweight Aljamain Sterling weighed in on why he feels, instead, that a hands-off approach from the UFC is likely the best policy here.
“I don’t think it’s the UFC’s place to tell another grown individual how to conduct themselves,” Sterling explained. “I mean, you can set rubrics – like a standard, a code of conduct thing – I get that. But, I think at this point, to kind of use him as a scapegoat—and again, I’m not looking to give him a pass on any of his past, or even current behaviors. But, at the end of the day, his job is to go in there and fight. If he’s going outside of his work duties, and he’s doing stupid shit like this—like getting DWIs and the gun negligence and stuff like that? That’s an issue, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily their place to go in and tell him, ‘Hey, you have to get rehab or we’re going to strip you of the belt.’
“Because, to be fair, he hasn’t – he’s endangered people, so I get that – but he hasn’t done anything where it’s like, ‘Well, this is the last straw. You’ve done this and you’ve killed somebody.’ And I’m not saying let’s wait until he kills somebody, because that’s completely wrong also, but I think there’s gotta be a fine line. That’s a very delicate situation. Like, once you go down that path, you kinda set that precedent for everybody going forward. Because if that’s the case, then what about Conor McGregor who punched an old man!? You can’t say something about [Jon Jones], and then not say something about that.”
Jones reportedly has an agreement in place to plead guilty to the DWI charge, while the open container and firearms negligence charges will be dropped. The result should mean a $500 fine, 96-hours of house arrest, and 48 hours of community service. ESPN also reports that Jones will be placed on probation of one year, and will have a device placed in his vehicle to prevent him from starting the car without taking a breathalyzer test.
Beyond that, much like Sterling cautions, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the UFC just decides to move on and work to forget any of this ever even happened.