Jon Jones is the youngest champion in UFC history and has had one of the fastest “growth spurts” in MMA. The years he has spent in the game can be counted on one hand, but his success has landed him on the receiving end of thunderous applause on many occasions.

As with the overplayed “with great power, comes great responsibility,” Jones has achieved the highest level in his division, but has recently started to show the signs of a superstar. Like a curse set upon treasure, being close and then attaining the gold around his waist has started to show Jones in a different light.

He is starting to show indications that he is worthy of the hype he receives, but his stardom is a double-edged sword. His actions can be bewildering and worshiped, or they can be seen as arrogant and disrespectful.

Now that Jones is no longer a backup dancer and takes center stage, he has the spotlight on him like never before. With someone rising through the ranks so quickly, people start to talk more about him, and much more frequently.

Jones’ verbal hype was then aided by blue-chip sponsorships, talk show appearances and other media ploys that put his face at the forefront of MMA.

But all too quickly, Jones seemed to change to the public. Jones was, and still is, revered as a humble person. In fact, it is his humble nature and well-spoken demeanor that has paved way for his media attention. His character was built upon his unorthodox and evolving style, and his personality.

Jones plays the good guy; not swearing on TV or at public appearances, going on different shows, deep in his faith and donning the biblical verse: Philippians 4:13, tattooed on his chest.

But other actions since he has been in the spotlight have been a little out of character.

Jones really started to gain attention right before facing Ryan Bader. After he demolished Bader in that fight, he was given the title shot due to Rashad Evans’ inability to fight. As soon as he was in the title talk, he started to change his act.

When asked for an autograph, Jones started signing “UFC Champion” along with his name. A great statement of confidence to many, but a premature arrogance to some.

Jones (l) fighting Rampage Jackson at UFC 135 (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

It was a simple action that people started to criticize due to the focus on him at the time. Some saw it as disrespectful to the current champion at the time, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Others just viewed it as a written form of what Jones was already saying in the Countdown and other pre-fight rituals.

Sure enough, Jones won the title and became the youngest champion in UFC history at age 23. It was a well-deserved victory, especially after stopping a robbery the day of his fight. But following his title win, he took a different approach to his fans. When fans would bring him UFC Replica belts, he would refuse to sign them.

“Yeah. I hate it when people come up to me with a belt that looks exactly like mine and they ask me to sign it,” Jones said. “I worked three times a day for three years to get this [light heavyweight championship] belt, and now this guy asking me for an autograph has one just like it. Are you serious? I mean it’s not as heavy, but it looks just the same.”

His reasoning was that the belts looked just like his, and he worked hard for it, therefore he was not a fan of the fake ones and would not sign them. Once again, an action with a valid argument, but one that makes the public raise an eyebrow.

Along with his title shot and becoming champ, Jones experienced a feud with former training partner, Rashad Evans. Due to their issues, Evans started bashing Jones and saying he wasn’t the humble person everyone thought he was. The biggest part of the ordeal, though, came later when Jones was supposed to fight Evans.

He suffered an injury to his hand, which he initially said needed surgery. Evans then took another fight, as to not be sidelined again in waiting. Soon after Evans took another fight, Jones made the statement that he decided surgery was not the path he was going to take, and then was matched against “Rampage” Jackson for his first title defense.

His reasoning was that surgery is a risky move at his age, and he would opt away from doing damage to his career later down the road. A great point and most likely the case, but to the MMA world, it looked a little suspicious. Most of Jones’ actions in his tiff with Evans did not give him the best image boosters.

Then came his defense against Rampage.

A dominant performance that showed he deserved that title, but he received some criticism over his opening acts. Prior to the fight, Jones started to become more outspoken in making comments toward Rampage. He made a video statement to Rampage in regards to his actions in his controversial interview with Karyn Bryant, as well.

During their fight, the first round started and Jones came toward Rampage in a monkey-like stance. He was low to the ground, keeping a hand on the mat, and scooted around the former champion. It was a tactic Jones later revealed was a setup for a takedown, but it still left others with a sour note.

Anderson Silva is notoriously known for his movement in the cage. Now that he is considered the best fighter in the world, he receives the most scrutiny for anything he does.

When he moves his hands wildly, drops them or “dances,” people criticize him because they feel his actions are disrespectful. This is the same feeling people started to find all too familiar with Jones’ initial approach at Rampage. Also, at the end of one of the rounds, Jones lifted Rampage off of him and dropped him after the bell. Due to the position they were in on the ground, Jones did this while standing up, but it still looked as if he hadn’t given any effort to avoid lifting Rampage. Another small and insignificant detail, but one fans pay attention to.

Right after Jones defeated Rampage to hold onto his belt, Rashad Evans was brought into the cage. They revealed it would be Evans to finally get his shot at the title again. When asked about their thoughts, Jones replied first. He started off by saying how he knew Evans would trash talk and say bad things, but Jones wasn’t going to be like that.

Has Jones turned his back on the qualities that made him a fan favorite? (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

“I’m sure he’s got a lot to say and he’s going to do a lot of talking,” Jones said. “I’m not going to say anything, I promise you guys, leading up to this fight I’m not going to say much. I’m just going to prove it. He’s ruined my special night twice now. The time will come.”

A characteristic thought of Jon Jones, but uncharacteristic action. While Jones could have just said he was going to focus on himself and looked forward to it, he made the effort to say something negative about Evans.

This, in of itself, is not a bad thing or uncommon, but it is for Jones to say. Evans countered with a short response of doing his own thing, but immediately showed signs of frustration and resentment with what Jones had just said.

Other factors have not helped Jones either.

Some do not like Jones because he defeated one of their favorite fighters. Some are jealous of his success. Some don’t like him just because he is doing so well, and people just want to see him fail. But it is truly his subjective cockiness and arrogance that has made fans start to slip away from Jon Jones.

If he can put aside the fame and glory, his image may improve. For now, many who were on the “Bones” Jones ship have started to see an iceberg ahead.

Top Photo: Jon Jones (r) battles “Rampage” Jackson (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

Gregory Chase
Staff Writer

Gregory Chase is an MMA enthusiast and aficionado. He is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report (MMA), a Featured Columnist at Sports-at-Work, a Contributor for The MMA Corner, and is the Connecticut MMA Examiner for Examiner.com. Chase also trains in MMA, focusing on a mixture of striking disciplines, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He writes to promote thought, give perspective and provide a coherent analysis on topics, while maintaining a smooth read and educating/entertaining. He lives by his motto of “MMA: Live it. Breathe it.”