Before you raise hell against myself and the company that employs me for leveling slander against arguably the most accomplished mixed martial artist of the modern era, know that the title of this article comes straight from the lyrics of "John Jones," a 1968 Reggae hit from the great Rudy Mills. It does!
...But ahead of UFC 247 Saturday, it's also not so far away from capturing the often agonizing aura of Jon Jones, the longtime light heavyweight champion of the world and this weekend's headliner. His sheer dominance has too often been accompanied by cheating, trouble with the law, and a lack of authentic personality traits befitting a star athlete. Accompanying far too much of what he does is a feeling that something just ain't quite right.
The man we call Bones, despite having calves thinner than prime Lara Flynn Boyle, ascended to the UFC pound-for-pound throne on the strength of a brilliantly adaptable style of "look-see-do" violence that essentially makes him facekicking's version of Cypher from the X-Men -- but his amazing run is blemished. He's twice been stripped on the light heavyweight title: once for PEDs, and once again for an automobile hit-and-run that left a pregnant woman injured, an incident that violated the UFC's personal conduct policy.
"You call yourself a big, big man. And still you try to kill my hand..." You can almost picture Reggae-tastic Rudy Mills and Dana White pow-wowing a half-dozen years ago in a sweat lodge wondering how to get this guy to take up a different hobby.
(Like graphic design, for starters.)
All told, Jones has failed two drug tests, committed a DUI in 2012, and pleaded no contest to a battery charge last summer. If you're reticent to consider him some kind of sports hero, well, sure, but too bad. He'll still try to kill your hand -- and that of every last fighter you'd prefer by comparison. He defends titles like Yadier Molina defends home plate. He's bossed the light heavyweight division like Miranda Priestly with a seven-foot wingspan.
And all the while, he's never approached a place of being beloved. Rather, you want to see him lose just to know such a thing is possible -- and perhaps to see if such a thing would bring some fire out of him at long last. Some real human being fire, too, not the kind of fake heat that brings a man to weirdly shove an affable cat like Daniel Cormier in the forehead at a press conference.
"Jo(h)n Jones, you son of a gun."
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that there are no second acts in American life, and while this damn country is ideally meant to be the land of second chances, you can count Dominick Reyes, Jones' opponent this weekend at UFC 247 in Houston, as being in the Fitzgerald-Rudy Mills camp.
As Reyes put it, “The lore of Jon Jones is a lot bigger than he actually is."
Right on, Dominick. Ol' Johnny Bones only calls himself a big, big man right?
"Well, I don't like a man
Who tries to belittle me
And I don't like a man
Who tries to kill my hand
Jo(h)n Jones, you son of a gun."
*The needle is heard dragging at the inside edge of the record as Side 1 ends*
Rudy Mills is still out there somewhere, probably searching for Zion in sandals.
And if he's game to come full circle, put on some weight, and rock Jon Jones steady in the Octagon some time later this year, a pay-per-view booking is merely a phone call away.
Nothing like a fight with a Jamaican icon to give a whole new meaning to "blunt force." Don't say you weren't warned, Jo(h)n.