Jon Jones’s legendary reign as light heavyweight champion was not derailed by a well-placed punch or a deftly applied submission, but by a long string of troubles outside the cage. It’s because of Jones’s indiscretions outside the cage — namely a hit-and-run, and his purported abuse of both recreational and performance-enhancing drugs — that he has not been able to call himself the undisputed champion for more than a few moments since early 2015.
All the same, Jones resides amongst the best fighters in the history of mixed martial arts, and his resume is almost unrivalled. For these reasons, he still considers himself the true light heavyweight champion of the UFC.
Thanks brother, yeah I know I don’t need to hold that belt to be the champion. Sure the whole top five knows that too https://t.co/6UfzdcX0Nr
— BONY (@JonnyBones) May 30, 2018
“Thanks brother, yeah I know I don’t need to hold that belt to be the champion,” Jones said in response to a fan on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. [I’m] sure the whole [light heavyweight] top five knows that too.”
Jones elaborated on this feeling in a followup Tweet that he has since deleted. Thankfully, this Tweet was immortalized by a screen-capture from MMAMania.
“I don’t need the physical belt or even to be in the rankings to know that I am the champion,” Jones said in this deleted Tweet. “It’s something I feel in my heart. I know what I’ve done. I know what I’m going to do.”
Jon Jones last fought in July of 2017, when he knocked out Daniel Cormier to reclaim the UFC light heavyweight title. Regrettably, a failed drug test meant that this win was overturned, and that the title was returned to Cormier — a truly incredibly champion in his own right.
What do you think the future holds for Jon Jones?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/31/2018.