This one hits much closer to home than the cosmic six degrees of separation rule.
Before he became Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones wrestled for Broome Community College in Binghamton, N.Y., winning the state cadet junior 189-pound title in freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines. "Bones" would eventually transfer to Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he would collect a national JUCO wrestling championship.
Jones' amateur wrestling days would end in Iowa and his transition to mixed martial arts (MMA) would eventually begin shortly thereafter. Along the way, however, Jones naturally shared the mat with numerous teammates, including his older brother Arthur, who also claimed a state cadet junior title at 275 pounds for Broome.
The Jones brothers weren't the only successful grapplers on that team. Jovan Belcher, an undrafted linebacker out of the University of Maine who managed to work himself onto the Kansas City Chiefs roster, was also victorious at 171 pounds. And apparently, via the Ithaca Journal, the Joneses and Belcher remained close despite their wildly different paths to athletic stardom.
Arthur, a defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens, shared a his most recent exchange with Belcher after his squad eked out a win over his by a field goal back in early October. It was just like any other:
"... We would all share stories how we all would make it one day. And dream about our first nice car and house we would all own one day, things we would buy our family. ... This past game when we met on the field after the game we reminisce about the old times we used to have traveling city to city, state to state, kicking butt and taking names. He talked about how good Jon is doing in the UFC and told me to tell him that Jon still can't beat him yet. We both laugh, hug and wish each other the best for the rest of the season. And walked away knowing I would see my friend again day down the road...."
He will never see Belcher again because he allegedly shot his girlfriend -- the mother of his three-month old daughter -- nine times this past weekend. She perished, but Belcher's work was not done. He drove to Arrowhead Stadium, thanked his general manager and head coach for all that they had done for them, and then took his own life in the parking lot as sirens in hot pursuit wailed in the background.
Jon Jones has yet to comment on the situation. He is currently in Las Vegas, Nevada, serving as coach for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 alongside his future opponent, Chael Sonnen.
For more on the Belcher tragedy I encourage you to visit Arrowhead Pride, which has been following the situation closely, right here.