Former UFC light-heavyweight champion and all-time undisputed pound-for-pound MMA great Jon Jones is currently living in a jail cell in Albuquerque, New Mexico, separated from the general prison population “for his own protection.” There’s something cruel and inevitable about the situation, like a Greek tragedy, where the hero spends the first half of the play running from his fate only to go toppling blindly into it and crashing back to the ground, as sure as the sun sets in the west. In 2011, when he beat Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to become the youngest MMA champion in history, it looked like Jones’ destiny was to become the greatest mixed martial artist ever. Five years later it feels like Jon Jones’ destiny was always to end up in cell 26 of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center, busted on a traffic violation.
Last Thursday Jones was driving home after a night out with teammates when he was pulled over by an Albuquerque police officer. Body camera footage of the traffic stop shows the officer accusing Jones of drag racing, to which Jones replies that he was merely revving his engines at a stoplight for fans and that he “did not take off at a high speed.” After that things got testy, with the officer goading Jones and Jones calling the officer a “fucking pig” and a “liar.” For his troubles the light-heavyweight received five tickets: one for drag racing, one for exhibition driving, one for use of modification of exhaust system, one for failure to maintain traffic lane, and one for improper display of registration plate.
The problem for Jon Jones, of course, is that he’s currently already on probation in relation to an earlier traffic violation, this one a hit-and-run from April 2015. In September Jones pled guilty to that charge in return for 18 months’ probation and 72 community-service appearances. As a result, this Tuesday morning around 10 Jones was arrested on charges of violating his probation. Ever since, the former champ has been sitting in a cell, wasting away.
But Jones’ Iliad of traffic woes doesn’t stop there. On March 23, just one day before this most recent, “drag racing” incident, Jones had been in court in Albuquerque pleading no contest to charges related to a January incident during which he was cited for driving without a license, insurance, or registration. The judge gave Jones a 90-day deferral on those charges but not before (according to Jones) warning the star not to get any tickets during that time. Avoid trouble for 90 days, the judge said, and those citations will be wiped from your record and your probation won’t be affected. Jones managed to make it about 36 hours.
Add to this the fact that Jones pled guilty to DUI charges back in 2012 after driving his Bentley into a pole in Binghamton, New York, and any judge has all the evidence he or she probably needs to bust Jones, send him to prison, and break the hearts of MMA fans who were looking forward to the April 23 rematch between Jon Jones and current light-heavyweight title holder Daniel Cormier but who, if they were really being honest with themselves, never actually believed that fight was going to happen. These days, the smarter bet is on Jon Jones getting busted behind the wheel of a car than it is on him walking into the Octagon.
Jon Jones an archetypal tragic figure, a man doomed, despite all his genius and greatness, to get swallowed whole by his darker angels and the forces of fate. But the cruelty of the gods looked at another way is just bad luck, and vice versa, and since we now live in an enlightened age and choose not to believe that our tragic heroes are condemned to anything as a matter of cosmic fact, it seems like a waste of time to search for meaning anymore in the tragic and absurd story of Jon Jones. No, we’ll leave it to the sports pundits and part-time TV psychologists and full-time home moralists to dive into Jones’ mind and past and probe them for clues, motivations, flaws, and resonant traumas. The only relevant question at this point, as the former pound-for-pound king stares down the very real possibility of wasting his prime fighting years sitting in a prison cell, is: What in the world is Jon Jones ever doing driving a car?
According to the latest reports, Jones will be going before a New Mexico Second Judicial District Court judge tomorrow morning at 8am. Here’s hoping, for our sakes, they give them man one more chance. And here’s hoping, for his, they take away his fucking keys.
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