In the past, Jon Jones seemed to be overly concerned about how mixed martial arts (MMA) fans and the media perceived him.
From comments about his social media snafus to his DUI arrest, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion wanted to let everyone know he is a good person, as well as a religious one, despite what others have said about him or what his actions have contradicted.
Jones has often been labeled as "fake" by fans, contemporaries and opponents, most notably Daniel Cormier in the lead up to UFC 182, which takes place this Saturday night (Jan. 3, 2015). After the infamous brawl at a media day several months ago, which has been used in all the UFC 182 promos, both Jones and Cormier were caught in a live conversation that they believed was off camera (see that amazing footage here).
Indeed, Jones said plenty of inflammatory remarks. And since the whole world saw it, he couldn't make any excuses for his behavior; in fact, he is actually "offended" that the promotion is using the footage to promote its upcoming "bad blood" pay-per-view (PPV) event.
"Bones" -- winner of eight-straight UFC title fights -- was recently asked during UFC 182's media call (listen to a full replay here) to share more about about how he felt now that the world has seen the video from that day.
"It was kind of a relief," Jones said. "I am a Christian and I do try to carry my image in a certain light because I think it’s important for the people I inspire and for endorsements, but at the same time I will swear, I will tell a guy who said he would spit in my face that I’d kill him, I would call him the names I called him. It was a hit in a way, a bad hit in a way, but also relieving for people to see, ‘whoa, Jones has a little 'ratchetness' in him.’ And they finally got to see that."
Although both Jones and Cormier said they had regrets about the brawl back in August, the champion definitely seemed unapologetic about what was caught on camera and what he said to Cormier that day. He has been portrayed as the antagonist in the UFC 182 promos and has ultimately embraced the role.
"I have been pretty resistant," said Jones. "No one wants to be the bad guy, but at the same time people tag me to be the bad guy, and I’ve learned to just let go, let go. When I read my comments on Twitter and Instagram I realize that I do inspire people and touch people and people really do appreciate who I am as a martial artist."
The 14-1 fighter may have "let it go" in terms of how he is perceived by others, but that doesn't mean the naysayers don't get under his skin still. It's obvious he still pays attention to what they say about him, and he thinks they need better material.
"When I look at some of the people who write negative messages it’s always so dumb," Jones said emphatically. "It’s like so dumb. It’s like ‘dude you’re fake.’ I’ve been hearing that I’m fake for so many years, it’s like, okay, who cares if I’m fake. I win fights. That is what I’m here to do. I’m not here to win you over with my personality. I’m here to fight ... that is ultimately my job.
"It’s always really stupid stuff," he continued. "So I’ve learned to kind of laugh at it. I’m just waiting for the person who really hates me that gives me a legit answer or reason. And no one has ever really given me anything solid outside of calling me fake. What are we in high school? I’m a grown man. I’m like, ‘okay, you are going to call me fake?’ You can’t call my work ethic fake and the things I’ve achieved fake. I just find it funny. I really do find it funny and I’ve learned to just laugh at it and go with it. And if that is the best thing you got on me, that is not a bad thing at all. You sound like a girl calling me fake. So, yeah, that’s that."
With a half-million payday awaiting him at the conclusion of UFC 182, in addition to any potential fight night bonuses and endorsement dollars, Jones is likely laughing his way all the way to the bank.