Fair or not, it seems all of the great things Jon Jones has done in his short time in mixed martial arts (MMA) -- including becoming the youngest champion in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history, breaking longstanding records, and beating one legend after another -- have been erased from the memory of many fans after "Bones" was arrested for his hit-and-run accident.
That's according to Malki Kawa, longtime manager to "Bones," who declared on The MMA Hour that everybody is quick to judge Jones for his transgressions and forget about all of the great things he's done, based on assumptions of what went down without having all the facts.
A few days after the news surfaced, UFC officials decided to strip Jones of his title and then suspended him indefinitely, something Kawa didn't agree with. While suspending him was fine, according to Kawa, taking his title away without knowing all of the facts simply wasn't the correct thing to do.
"Jon Jones won that belt inside the Octagon, nobody beat him for the belt, right? That's just one case in itself. On the other hand, people are jumping to a lot of conclusions, we haven't let things play out and he hasn't had his day in court. I don't think it's okay to just hand punishments down like that. But, I do definitely understand where the UFC, sponsors, and everybody is coming from. I can totally understand. I'm a firm believer that, whether it's Jon Jones or any athlete, if they have been accused of doing something, no matter what it looks like or doesn't look like, I believe that they should have an opportunity to defend themselves first and to have their day in court. If you look at the NFL with Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson; they were not allowed to play. But they went and had a lot of their stuff overturned and things came back later that were worse things and some that weren't as bad as they they were perceived. I'd rather see leagues hand out punishments after they have had their day in court. But I understand that the court of public opinion sometimes reigns supreme."
As a result of the suspension, Daniel Cormier was given another shot at winning the strap (details), as he was pegged as Jon's replacement against Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 on May 23, 2015.
As far as Jones' fighting future, which would include a fight against either Johnson or Cormier to regain his belt, Kawa says he is 50/50 when asked if he thought Jones would ever fight again, saying that the MMA community may have seen "Bones" compete in the sport for the final time.
That's because as a friend to Jones, Malki says the embattled champion is focusing on himself at the moment.
"No, I don't know that for sure. It could very well be the last time we saw Jon Jones compete inside the Octagon. I think Jon Jones is going to focus on Jon Jones. I think he is going to take the time to do whatever he's got to do. And if this is the last time we've seen him fight, it's the last time we've seen him fight. And I'm okay with that. That's why when you ask me about sponsors and how I feel about that, I understand there are bigger things than that. This is life we're talking about, this is more than a business. he's is my friend I care about him a lot and I am perfectly fine if he never comes back to the sport again. I am okay with that. He will still go down as the greatest of all time and no one is ever going to convince me otherwise. No other fighter has been able to do what he's been able to do and no one has impacted the sport the way he has. The reality of it is, you can try to bring him down, but I do believe he's the greatest of all time inside the Octagon, no one can take that from him."
If Jones does put his MMA career in the rear-view mirror to focus on himself, it would be very commendable and no one would fault him for that. If this truly is the last we've seen of Jones inside the cage, will you be disappointed as a fan?
And is he the G.O.A.T.?