Jon Jones still had 55 days left on his suspension for drug use when he showed up, in mid-May, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas for the UFC’s Summer Kickoff press conference. The fighting world had come to expect the unexpected from the 29-year-old known as Bones, but nobody was prepared for what would happen next.
The former light heavyweight champion, regarded by some as the greatest mixed martial arts fighter of all time—and by others as a sanctimonious phony—hadn’t fought in over a year, after the World Anti-Doping Agency found him guilty of taking generic erectile dysfunction pills in the days leading up to his July 2016 rematch with archrival Daniel Cormier, forcing a last-minute change to the main event.
The suspension was only the latest punishment Jones received for a series of transgressions committed by the Bible-tweeting son of a pastor—including two drug violations and a hit-and-run collision with a pregnant woman—for which Jones has been twice stripped of his UFC title.
Taking his seat behind one of the tables on stage with the other 16 fighters, Jones was wearing a green polo shirt with an olive collar; his trademark mountain-man beard had been replaced by a more understated hipster goatee. He looked clear-eyed and ready to reclaim his belt from Cormier at UFC 214, scheduled for July 29 in Anaheim, California.
The duo’s intense rivalry dates back to their first casual meeting, backstage at a UFC title fight in 2010, when Jones, a former junior college All-American wrestler, told the two-time former Olympian, “I bet that I could take you down.”
Four years later, at UFC 182, Jones kept his promise, taking the older, shorter man to the mat—and then doing it twice more.
Before this spring’s press conference in Dallas had even begun, the men wasted no time renewing their feud. Complaining that Jones was talking smack about his children, an outraged Cormier hit Jones in the face with a water bottle. They had to be separated.
Now the two fighters were on stage in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, one on either side of the master of ceremonies, a couple of security guys in between. Millions more were live-streaming. On the table in front of Cormier was the champion’s belt, 13 pounds of leather, gold plate and gleaming stones. Wearing a white short-sleeved dress shirt, his bald head shaved to a sheen, the 38-year-old reigning light heavyweight champ—who had won the vacant title after Jones’ suspension—wasted no time digging up the past.
“Is he really going to be in Anaheim?” Cormier asked the audience, invoking the canceled match. “Is this guy really going to go to the fight? Is this guy going to mess this up again by doing steroids or snorting cocaine or sandblasting prostitutes?”
“Prostitutes?” Jones asked incredulously. A visible welt was rising on his forehead. Despite the occasional talk of his possible womanizing, Jones has maintained that he is faithful to the mother of three of his daughters, who calls him “a sweet softy” and a “loving, caring, compassionate fiance and father.” Jones’ only visible tattoo, across his right upper chest, cites a Bible verse, Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
“I beat you after a weekend of cocaine,” Jones declared, speaking defiantly into the mic.
Hearing this revelation, a palpable hush came over the raucous Texas crowd. Nobody could help but wonder: What’s the matter with this guy? He’s coming off a yearlong drug suspension, and he’s admitting to…doing more drugs? Is he addicted to self-destruction? Just plain clueless? Or maybe he’s willing to admit to almost anything publicly before he’ll let his fiancee believe he was cheating on her with prostitutes.
“I had two great weekends back-to-back,” Jones told Cormier: “Cocaine one weekend, your ass the next. It was great.”
Six days later, Jones is driving me around Albuquerque, New Mexico, in his 2015 Chevrolet Corvette, a black-on-white Z06 with an airfoil on the trunk. The sky is bright blue, the rugged Sandia Mountains hunkered to the east beyond the town’s mini-skyline. So far, nobody from the UFC has uttered a word in public about Jones’ cocaine admission, even though it went viral.
People familiar with Jones might recognize the Vette from another viral video, of body-cam footage released by the Albuquerque police after a March 2016 traffic stop. Jones can be seen explaining that he wasn’t trying to drag-race a Cadillac; he’d only revved his 650 horsepower engine to impress some fans. As Jones becomes heated, he calls the cop a “fucking liar” who is “fucking with me for no reason.”
Perhaps aware he was being recorded while pulling over one of the most notoriously ill-behaved athletes in the world, the officer kept his cool. Jones was cited for five violations, breaking the terms of his probation for the hit-and-run. He turned himself in, but the next day, he found himself in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Bernalillo County. (He eventually pleaded guilty to two of the five violations, and served 60 hours of community service and completed an aggressive driving course.)
source: bleacher report