History will not be kind to Jon Jones, who was widely considered to be one of the greatest Mixed Martial Artists of all time when he was just in his mid-twenties.
However, an almost never ending array of transgressions derailed his career and potentially his future legacy as a fighter, which overshadowed his consistent stellar performances throughout his career.
Jon Jones Bio and Stats
- Weight class: Light-heavyweight (205 lbs)
- Nationality / birthplace: Rochester, New York, United States
- Fighting style: Wrestling and grappling
- Age: Born 20 March 1979
- Height: 1.93m
- UFC debut: UFC 87 on August 9, 2008
Jon Jones MMA History
Jones was born into an athletic family – his two brothers are both professional footballers in the NFL – and he also played American football and wrestling during his high school years. He continued to wrestle in college, before he dropped out to pursue an MMA career.
It was a career that started quickly, with Jones having won his first four professional MMA fights within a month in regional events throughout the northeast USA. Two more quick victories on the regional circuit followed before he received a short notice call up to the UFC to face Andre Gusmao at UFC 87.
Jon Jones UFC Debut
Jones’ UFC debut at the young age of 21 was, by all definitions, successful. He won by unanimous decision in a performance that got many fans and pundits talking about his youth, unorthodox style and his unusual physical attributes (a 6’4 light heavyweight with an 84.5 inch reach).
Victories against Stephan Bonnar and Jake O’Brien soon followed before the only official glitch on Jones’ solid professional record, a disqualification loss to Matt Hammill, occurred. In that match, Jones dominated the first round with his long range striking, wrestling and ground and pound before a series of illegal 12-6 elbows to Hammill prompted the referee to halt the action.
A bloodied Hammill was found to have suffered a dislocated shoulder and he was awarded a controversial (as the injury was viewed as not being caused by the elbows) disqualification victory.
That would not deter Jones, however, as he quickly bounced back to win his first ever Main Event bout in the UFC. It came against striking standout Brandon Vera, who Jones dominated on the ground en route to a vicious KO victory which broke Vera’s face in three places.
Jones then stopped durable veteran Vladimir Matyushenko before giving The Ultimate Fighter 8 winner Ryan Bader his first ever professional MMA loss. The win against Bader came at a time when Light Heavyweight title challenger Rashad Evans was forced to pull out of his scheduled title fight against Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua due to injury, and Jones accepted an offer to replace him.
Jon Jones Career Highlights
The fight came just six weeks after Jones’ victory against Bader, but any doubts about a full fight camp were quickly quashed as Jones dominated the Brazilian champion from the opening bell. A beatdown of epic proportions occurred over two and a half rounds before Rua was eventually forced to tap to strikes, which officially made Jon Jones the youngest ever UFC champion.
A one-by-one dismantling of the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division and every viable contender within it would follow. It started with a submission victory over Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson at UFC 135 and followed with a second-round victory over former champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 140.
Victories over former UFC champions and veterans Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort were easily the highlights for Jones in 2012. That year also had its lowlights as two major controversies – a drink driving charge and the cancellation of UFC 151 – marred Jones consistently strong MMA performances.
However, with four title defences on his record, Jones was widely touted to break the Light Heavyweight defence record in 2013. That was exactly what he did, as wins against Chael Sonnen and Alexander Gustafsson made Jones the most successful Light Heavyweight champion in UFC history.
In what would end up being Jones’ only fight in 2014, Jones beat heavily hyped fighter Glover Teixeira at UFC 172, which marked 20 MMA victories for the New York native. He then dominated undefeated fighter, and former Olympic wrestler, Daniel Cormier in the Main Event of UFC 182.
Watch Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier Video Highlights
Jon Jones Drug Controversy
Despite the stunning victory, the win was overshadowed by news that Jones has tested positive to cocaine in a drug test just weeks prior to UFC 182. Although Jones was not rebuked for this indiscretion due to cocaine not being banned out-of-competition, the controversy was a precursor of what was to come.
In April 2015, just three months after his victory against Cormier, Jones was arrested for a hit-and-run incident that was so controversial it resulted in him being stripped of his Light Heavyweight title and Reebok ending their sponsorship agreement with Jones.
The incident involved Jones running a red light and crashing into two vehicles, one of which had a pregnant woman inside. Jones fled the scene of the accident before returning to collect cash from his vehicle and leaving again.
Jon Jones Suspension Saga
Jones avoided a jail term after pleading guilty to charges associated with the incident, and returned to the UFC in April 2016, beating Ovince St. Preux for the interim UFC Light Heavyweight title. Jones was then due to rematch Cormier – the undisputed UFC Light Heavyweight champion – at UFC 200, but was pulled from the card and stripped of his interim belt due to violating USADA’s doping policy.
The violation resulted in a one-year suspension for Jones, who then rematched Cormier for the Light Heavyweight belt just weeks after his suspension was completed. Jones beat Cormier via knockout in the third round to recapture the belt he had once held for years, and it looked like Jones was back where he belonged.
Watch Highlights of Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier 2
Just three weeks after reclaiming the belt, Jones tested positive for anabolic steroids, which resulted his UFC 214 victory over Cormier being changed to a No Contest and – for the third time – being stripped of the title.
That indiscretion heralded a fall from grace for the man who was well on his way to becoming a true legend of the sport. If found guilty of the latest steroid violation, Jones could be suspended for up to four years, which could all but end his MMA career.
Jon Jones UFC and MMA Record
|NC||22–1 (1)||Daniel Cormier||NC (overturned)||July 29, 2017|
|Win||22–1||Ovince Saint Preux||Decision (unanimous)||April 23, 2016|
|Win||21–1||Daniel Cormier||Decision (unanimous)||January 3, 2015|
|Win||20–1||Glover Teixeira||Decision (unanimous)||April 26, 2014|
|Win||19–1||Alexander Gustafsson||Decision (unanimous)||September 21, 2013|
|Win||18–1||Chael Sonnen||TKO (elbows and punches)||April 27, 2013|
|Win||17–1||Vitor Belfort||Submission (americana)||September 22, 2012|
|Win||16–1||Rashad Evans||Decision (unanimous)||April 21, 2012|
|Win||15–1||Lyoto Machida||Technical Submission (standing guillotine choke)||December 10, 2011|
|Win||14–1||Quinton Jackson||Submission (rear-naked choke)||September 24, 2011|
|Win||13–1||Maurício Rua||TKO (punches and knees)||March 19, 2011|
|Win||12–1||Ryan Bader||Submission (guillotine choke)||February 5, 2011|
|Win||11–1||Vladimir Matyushenko||TKO (elbows)||August 1, 2010|
|Win||10–1||Brandon Vera||TKO (elbow and punches)||March 21, 2010|
|Loss||9–1||Matt Hamill||DQ (illegal elbows)||December 5, 2009|
|Win||9–0||Jake O’Brien||Submission (guillotine choke)||July 11, 2009|
|Win||8–0||Stephan Bonnar||Decision (unanimous)||January 31, 2009|
|Win||7–0||André Gusmão||Decision (unanimous)||August 9, 2008|
|Win||6–0||Moyses Gabin||TKO (punches)||July 12, 2008|
|Win||5–0||Parker Porter||KO (punch)||June 20, 2008|
|Win||4–0||Ryan Verrett||TKO (punches)||May 9, 2008|
|Win||3–0||Anthony Pina||Submission (guillotine choke)||April 25, 2008|
|Win||2–0||Carlos Eduardo||KO (punch)||April 19, 2008|
|Win||1–0||Brad Bernard||TKO (punches)||April 12, 2008|