Jon Jones gets thumped for being disrespectful to the unconscious while Greg Jackson also takes a hit
Jon Jones is a bad-ass. There’s no denying it. A year ago he was a promising light heavyweight prospect, today he’s a two-time defending champ who has defeated three former champions along the way.
His submission victory over Lyoto Machida at Saturday’s UFC 140 was equally bad-ass. The way he trapped Machida against the fence in a standing guillotine and squeezed until he went to sleep was bad-ass. When he dumped his unconscious opponent face-first onto the mat was also bad-ass, at least in a Hollywood sort of way. I mean, didn’t it seem like Jones walked away from Machida’s crumpled body in slow motion?
The problem is that it wasn’t a movie or a video game, and for all of Jones’s talk about becoming a better martial artist, he showed none of the respect you’d expect of a true martial artist. His behaviour was just as despicable as Frank Mir’s when Mir failed to check on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira after he snapped his arm. Except Jones looked bad-ass doing it and Mir just looked like an ass. The alternative, of course, would have been for Jones to gently set Machida on the ground, perhaps with the help of referee “Big” John McCarthy. But in the heat of the moment, after having just won a major title defense, I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect him to be thinking clearly.
Admittedly, I’m not the first to take issue with Jones and Mir. MMA pioneer Erik Paulson posted the following on his Facebook page:
“A little bummed out to see Mir break Nogeras Arm and not check to see if he was ok after the Fight. Also to see Jones Drop Machida on his face after he knew that he was out! safety and Well being of your Brothers after you share sweat and blood. then don’t care about their well being. leaving a statement for the next generation of fighters that do it to you someday
He’s got a point. We want MMA to gain mainstream acceptance, we want moms and dads to put their kids in MMA programs and take them to fights, yet these are the role models we show them, these are the examples being set for them. Jones is better than Brock Lesnar and Chael Sonnen in that regard, but still, if we’re going to hold Jones up as the epitome of MMA, as the Michael Jordan of the sport, then we have expect better. And he can’t deliver any Charles Barkley-style “I am not a role model” speech, either.
Granted, I’m willing to cut Jones a little bit of slack. He’s only 24 and has had a tendency to act a bit childish in the cage (such as when he dumped Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on his face after the bell). He’s also a bit cocky, has a swagger to his stride, is blessed with enormous skills and infinite potential, and well, he does tend to rub people the wrong way. Haters gotta hate.
Which brings me to the Greg Jackson video that’s got the internet buzzing. Moments after the end of the Jones-Machida fight Jones’s coach told him to “go check on Lyoto – get some fans.” While the audio recording seems to indicate that Jones didn’t need to be told to go check on Machida, you can’t be too sure that the prompting wasn’t required, especially after he dropped him on his face. And sure, it was a cynical move by Jackson to encourage his fighter to check on Machida not out of any concern for him but to curry favour with fans. But it was also a shrewd bit of post-fight coaching considering most of the crowd in attendance had been cheering (loudly) for Machida throughout the bout.
Here’s how Jackson explained his comments on MMA Junkie:
“What I was saying was, ‘Go check on Lyoto,’ what I meant was to remember that you’re a public figure,” Jackson said. “There’s always attention on you and what you’re doing all the time, and there’s cage etiquette. There’s things you’re supposed to do, and going and checking on somebody is what you’re supposed to do.
“Jon is a really good guy. Everybody is just attacking his character because that’s what you have to attack when you can’t attack somebody’s fighting.
“It’s not that he was a bad guy. You just literally go crazy. None of these guys outside of the cage could understand that after the fight, you’re in the zone, man. It’s such an intense camp, especially for Jon, month after month, fight after fight.
“Let’s take B.J. Penn for an example. He’s actually a really nice guy; he walks around licking blood off his gloves all the time. Chuck Liddell is one of the sweetest, nicest guys you’ll ever meet, but when he knocks you unconscious, he runs around screaming and pumping his arms. That’s not normal behavior. So my job with Jon is to remind him. When the referee said break, he broke, and then he was still there in that zone. I was like, ‘Now, it’s time to relax and calm down and check on the guy.’ I should have said, ‘Remember your public figure.’ But like I say, ‘Go get some Donald Cerrone,’ I said, ‘Go get some fans.’”
Stupid things are said and done in the heat of the moment by fighters and coaches, and while this might not look good on Jackson and Jones, it’s hardly something to get bent out of shape about. Not after the stupid things that came out of fighters’ faces last week.