He’s back. Light heavyweight legend Jon “Bones” Jones defeated former champion Daniel “DC” Cormier in the main event of UFC 214 last Saturday night to recapture the UFC Light Heavyweight title via third round technical knockout. More importantly, the victory stamps Jones’ claim to being the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
The 30-year-old Jones has had his fair share of ups and downs throughout a storied career. He burst onto the scene with victories over the biggest names in the sport, quickly building his legendary run through the ranks. A series of out-of-the-cage mishaps, run-ins with the law, and failed drug tests, however, have marred what would have been an unblemished legacy.
But after everything he has been through, he is certainly back, for better or for worse, and with UFC gold once again around his waist.
It wasn’t easy though, as the now two-time world champion will tell you. He also doesn’t promise things will be perfect this time around either. What Jones will tell you is that he plans to at least try and make better life decisions.
One thing which has remained constant in Jones’ life, and perhaps what has saved him from complete self-destruction, is the presence of martial arts. As proven on many occasions, martial arts has the power to change lives for the better, and Jones is better because of it.
In lieu of Jones’ victory over Cormier, Evolve Daily shares How Martial Arts Turned Jon Jones Into A Champion Again.
1) Incredible work ethic
Despite Jones’ many extracurricular activities away from the cage, his incredible work ethic is exemplary. Martial arts, of course, is an immensely demanding physical ordeal. It takes a special sort of human being to be able to step onto the battlefield and compete. Working hard during training is how bouts are won.
Jones, a mainstay of the world-famous Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, feels most at home when he is sharpening his skills in the closed confines of the steel cage. Hours and hours of sleepless nights in the gym, working on his wrestling and perfecting his striking, has brought Jones from being a wide-eyed youngster to a certified world champion and one of the greatest to ever do it.
He wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of it if it weren’t for his work ethic. Hard work precedes success and dedication begets triumph. Without martial arts’ teaching of putting in maximum effort in things we do, Jones may have never realized his full potential.
2) Otherworldly skills
While many doubt Jones’ claim to greatness because of so many past failures, one thing remains undeniably true — Jones possesses otherworldly and exceptional martial arts skills.
With a record of 23 wins and only 1 loss, Jones has been virtually untouched inside the Octagon. He commands the perfect balance of wrestling and grappling, with pinpoint accurate striking and immense power.
Jones’ style is extremely difficult to deal with. His large 6-foot-4-inch and 205-pound frame offers Jones a daunting physical advantage over any light heavyweight he comes across, and his varied striking arsenal is both unpredictable and very tough to anticipate. After almost nearly 10 years as a professional, Jones has rarely been challenged inside the Octagon.
This, of course, could never have been achieved without a complete dedication to his craft. Yes, talent plays a huge role in determining the ceiling of a martial arts career, but a lot of success comes from putting the work in. Martial arts teaches us to always seek for constant self-improvement. We have to give Jones credit for turning his life around and improving in every single fight.
After two bouts, Jones has squashed his rivalry with Cormier in emphatic fashion, thanks in large part to his otherworldly martial arts skills.
3) Digging himself out of the trenches
Jones is far from a perfect human being, however. A long and well-publicized battle with drug addiction and alcoholism has caused him to become the only UFC fighter in history to be stripped of his title twice — the first time after an infamous hit-and-run road incident in 2015, and the second time after an out of competition anti-doping policy violation sanctioned by the US Anti-Doping Agency.
At the lowest point in his life and his career, Jones has spent the last two years largely away from the spotlight, and nowhere near considered one of the best fighters in the world. Despite his incredible and undeniable talent, Jones was his own worst enemy, and for a time it seemed that his career was over.
But then again, one of martial arts’ teachings is picking ourselves back up from defeat. No matter how far we fall in our lives, there is always a way back up. It requires an ironclad will and unwavering determination, but with a warrior spirit, anything is possible.
Jones may have been down, but he made it a point never be out. Through a focus on martial arts, which Jones always holds dear to his heart, he was able to dig himself out of the trenches.
4) Facing the inner demons
You can’t garner enough courage to face your biggest fears without acknowledging that you are first in a situation that requires a lot of attention. In this sense, we have to give Jones credit where it is due. While ordinary men would have wilted in the face of this sort of adversity, Jones instead chose to soldier on and tackle his issues directly.
Yes, he has had issues with law enforcement. He has been slapped with a DUI, and tried for a hit-and-run incident in 2015, running a red light and crashing his car into two other vehicles, afterwards fleeing the scene, leaving an injured pregnant woman behind. He has tested positive for USADA banned substances and has had his UFC light heavyweight title stripped because of it.
But part of recovery is recognizing that a problem exists, and then facing that problem head-on.
If it weren’t for the lessons martial arts has taught Jones throughout his life, perhaps he wouldn’t have had the strength to fight. Perhaps Jones would have succumbed to the pressure of life and its constant trials and tribulations, succumbing to his inner demons and losing the battle for self-control.
After all that he has been through, Jones finally realized that the most peaceful part of his life is inside that cage, the place he feels most at home. In this way, martial arts has given Jones an avenue to unleash his true potential. And now, once again champion, fans are in for another great run.
5) Never underestimate the heart of a champion
Perseverance — one of the most important teachings of martial arts, means never giving up and pushing through to the end. Jones has had many doubters and haters throughout his life, his career, but regardless of the many obstacles, the American mixed martial artist has proven to be a true champion.
Nevermind that he has experienced hitting rock bottom. At the lowest point of his career, it seemed as though Jones had nowhere to run. While lesser men would have surrendered to their circumstances, martial arts teaches the value of perseverance.
And so Jones continued to put in the work, picking himself up off the canvas and pushing through despite the doubt of the entire world on his shoulders. People said it was impossible. They said his career was over, and that he was so far out of the picture, sitting in relative nothingness.
True champions don’t succumb to that pressure. His second victory over Cormier represents more than just an exciting third round TKO, it represents more than just the end to a long-standing rivalry. Jones’ victory represents the reclaiming of his own life.
Because if there is one thing that martial arts teaches us, and it is a valuable lesson indeed, it is that we should never, under any circumstance, underestimate the heart of a champion.
Jon Jones could have given up. He could have just walked away. But the champion inside of him refused to relent. Win or lose, Jones wasn’t leaving that cage with his head down, martial arts wouldn’t allow him to.