Even amongst his critics, there is no denying the talent and dominance of Jon Jones. The young fighter is the ultimate definition of the word phenom, and at the young age of 25, it's truly frightening to imagine what is in store for this young man. With all of this sudden success and the constant spotlight, unfortunately, Jones will be under the microscope at all times whether his actions are with good intention or not. Most superstars receive this treatment in any form of celebrity, whether it be sports or acting, and yet for some reason many insist that Jones should not have to endure this treatment. In many threads and forums, many are quick to draw as far as defending the man known as Bones Jones. The question that has been burning in my mind the past few months or so has been, how are people not able to separate the difference of Jones as a fighter, and Jones as a person? And why is he immune to criticism in the eye of success?
I watch several sports and each sport is laced with superstars that are incredibly talented and just as equally observed and critiqued every second that they have the spotlight. Kobe Bryant is undoubtedly a hall of famer and as much as I do not like to admit it, he is a once in a lifetime player. I can say the same thing about Lebron James as well. Both men are watched for the magic they bring every time they step on to the court and are a treat to NBA fans everywhere. All the compliments being put forth, let's get down to business...I do not like either player for who they are as people. I thought the way Lebron handled his decision to move to Miami was disgusting and very egotistical. Every time I see Kobe make a shot and have to mean-mug or do that annoying under-bite makes me want to go kick ducklings. The thing about that, is I'm sure a great majority of people feel the same way, and state it. At the same time, we still acknowledge their talents, yet don't accept how they act or how they have acted. I don't see a flood of excuses for their actions. I don't see people in blond wigs under a sheet with a camera screaming and crying for everyone to just leave them alone. I watch Kevin Durant, and even as a young man, carry himself with great grace, humility, and let's his game speak for himself. Not every NBA player will be a Durant, or a Dwayne Wade for that matter, in that they too were young and to this date know how to act professional. However it seems that in both cases, people have learned to understand that there is a difference in the talent of the person and the person himself. Now let's switch back to MMA.
In the opposite corner of Jones is the one and only Chael Sonnen. A man who has talked himself into 3 championship fights, and has split the MMA community into 2 sides; you love him or you hate him. Chael has two very distinct sides, the entertainer/fighter and Chael himself. With the aid of this season's TUF, Chael showed that there was more than just his banter. And for the most part, everyone can see that Chael has two sides, and the choices are that either you love both sides, love one or the other, or hate him altogether. End of story. Jones has been a very interesting case, in that if you don't love all of Jones, than you must be a complete hater and there is no further discussion. I have seen every excuse arise for the way he acts since he has won the belt. And I have watched every criticism of him be dismissed by those who can't fathom Jones doing anything bad as people just being cynical and a "hater". I'll be the first to say that I absolutely admire what he does in the cage. He has dismantled all of my favorite LHW's before my eyes, and I have to grin and clap at his performances because it was quite the spectacle to watch. And I'll also be the first to say that I am not a fan at all at his character. I can't say that I enjoy his wording or actions during interviews, and that should be ok shouldn't it? More and more I've been finding that it's not ok to criticize Bones, and once again I would like to know why?
From, "He's only 20 something years old!" To, "Well he's just socially awkward!" To, "People just want to hate on him because of how good he is!" Can't it be that, just maybe, he isn't likable as a person? Great fighter for sure, but would it not be ok for someone to say, "Damn Jones kills it in the cage, but geez I don't know if I like him as just Jon Jones." Let's go to BJ Penn, who will forever be my favorite fighter. I adore what he has done in the cage. Do I wish he had better work ethic? Hell yes! Do I wish he would come across as not as whiny at times? Absolutely! Do I make excuses for how BJ Penn acts as a person in interviews or other outside of the ring situations? No way. Do I understand there's a difference between BJ as a fighter and BJ as a person? You bet your sweet tail I do. So for me lately, it's very hard to accept that Jones has this armor of invincibility when it comes to criticism, aka hate. My brother in law and I will argue every time Jones steps in the cage. He loves Jones and is a fan of him for his beautiful violence inside the cage. He also understands my point of view on him and knows that I enjoy Bones' work inside the cage. This is, I hope, an attempt at an open discussion about the difference between his fighter persona and his personal persona. I know everyone tends to say, "I don't cheer for him because of what he says, I like watching him murderdeathkill people in the octagon!!", but I'm just truly curious as to why Jones is set above what every other fighter is subjected to.