July 27, 2017

UFC 214: Get Hyped, Jon Jones Returns

By Adam Martin

The greatest mixed martial artist of all time returns this weekend when former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones returns from his one-year suspension for banned substances to fight current champion Daniel Cormier in a main event grudge match rematch at UFC 214. It’s Jones’ first fight since an ugly decision win over Ovince Saint-Preux in April 2016, and his return couldn’t come at a better time for the UFC brass, who are desperate for a bolt of energy into their dying PPV sales. Jones provides that.
With Jones vs. Cormier, Demian Maia vs. Tyron Woodley, Cris Cyborg vs. Tonya Evinger, and Donald Cerrone vs. Robbie Lawler all on the ledger, UFC 214 is one of the deepest cards the UFC has ever put together, and the company is surely counting on the card to sell at least 800,000 pay-per-views. Jones is one of the few legitimate stars the UFC has left right now, and the organization is relying on him to sell UFC 214. But then again, it’s hard to trust Jones, considering his recent past.

There’s no getting around it: Jones messed up badly, then he messed up again, then he messed up again. First he tested positive for cocaine in an out of competition test, then he was involved in a hit-and-run incident, then he got caught by USADA for banned substances which decimated UFC 200, and in between he was stripped of the light heavyweight title and the interim light heavyweight title. After destroying everyone the UFC put in the cage with him on his way to the title, it was assumed no one could beat Jones. But it turns out one man could defeat Jones, and that was Jones himself.

The high point of Jones’ career was arguably his 2013 Fight of the Year against Alexander Gustafsson, followed by his first win over Cormier at UFC 182 in early 2015, but after that it’s been all downhill for the former champion. The low point, aside from everything outside of the cage, was Jones’ return fight against OSP at UFC 197. Jones looked absolutely terrible in this fight, a bout that the old Jones would have easily won by devastating stoppage. Instead he took damage from an inferior opponent in OSP, and while he did ultimately get his hand raised, it was a poor performance. And the interim light heavyweight belt he won from this fight was later stripped anyway, so the fight ended up being pointless.

But there’s reason for hope.

Jones says he’s now sober and hungry to beat DC again and reclaim his belt. There has even been talk of Jones saying he wants to move up to heavyweight and fight Brock Lesnar in a superfight. If Jones is telling us the truth, he has the potential to cement his legacy as the GOAT with a move to a second division to win a second belt. And a fight against heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic is mouth-watering. Conor McGregor showed it was cool to get two belts, as did Randy Couture and BJ Penn before him, and Jones absolutely has the potential to join them. Of course, he has to get by DC first and win his light heavyweight belt back, and that’s not a lock by any means. But beating DC would open up a lot of doors for Jones, including a rematch with Gustafsson or that move to heavyweight he’s been talking about lately.

Already the greatest MMA fighter of all time, Jones can continue to add to his legacy, and it all starts again at UFC 214 with his rematch against Cormier. Even though his resume is arguably already the best in the sport, Jones still has a ton of potential to live up to. He could set the bar so high that no one could ever cross it. Ultimately, though, it will come down to whether or not Jones can control himself outside the cage, because that has a direct impact on what he does inside of it. If he can get his personal life back on track and get back to being the old “Bones” Jones that we used to know and love, not only will the 205 division be on notice, but the heavyweights too. The GOAT is back at UFC 214. Get hyped.

UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones 2 takes place July 29, 2017 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

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