With both major American political parties in full speech-making mode, what better way for Jon Jones to discuss his recent tribulations than with a prepared statement to his fans and critics?

In a former life, I was a speechwriter for the leaders of a sizable public university system. During that time, I spent many a day crafting what I thought were valuable messages that were later delivered to audiences of all sorts. If I worked for Jon Jones, here’s an oration I’d prepare for him to address the last few months of his life.

Editor’s Note—this is an editorial in which MMA Corner writer Eric Reinert is suggesting what Jon Jones should say to the MMA community.  The contents below reflect Reinert’s opinion only, and are in no way meant to represent any actual statements made by Jones or his representatives.

Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for taking the time to hear me out today.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve received a lot of questions and criticism from all kinds of people about different parts of my life. I’d like to take the time today to address these questions, respond to the criticism and hopefully give you a little more insight into what it’s like to be the UFC light heavyweight champion.

First, I want to express my sincere thanks to my coaches and training partners who have stood by my side through thick and thin in 2012. The fighters and staff in Albuquerque have shown me the kind of support I thought I could only expect from my family. They perfectly represent the sort of brotherhood that’s formed during the hundreds of hours we spend training in our sport.

I also want to thank those fans who offered their support in the last weeks and months. Being an MMA fighter is my occupation, and I understand that I’m a public figure, but it’s always nice to hear kind words from strangers, no matter what you do.

Now, let’s get to the meat of this discussion. Since the beginning of 2012, and especially in the last four months, my standing in the mixed martial arts community has taken quite a dive. Some of this is justified, but some of it frankly has me confused. So let’s talk about it.

I think you’d all agree that 2011 was a pretty great year for me. First, I beat Ryan Bader and then was given the opportunity to fight for the UFC light heavyweight title. I accepted the challenge—which, by the way, took place just six weeks after my fight with Bader—and dominated “Shogun” Rua. Oh yeah, and before that fight I stopped a mugging.

Remember those days, when everyone wanted to be my friend? Sure was nice…

I rattled off two more wins against former champions in 2011 and another in 2012. Things seemed to be going pretty well. I had the UFC sponsorship for that fight in April with Rashad Evans and was quickly becoming the face of American MMA.

And then something changed.

Let’s get the easy one out of the way first: Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. I’m not sure if my car or my reputation took the bigger hit.

I made a serious mistake, and for that I apologize. I am so thankful no one was hurt as the result of my carelessness and I hope my fans can forgive me. I understand why I got a decent amount of negative backlash from that behavior, but the criticism about other matters in my life and my career has left me somewhat baffled.

I was more ready for my fight with Dan Henderson than I’ve ever been for any fight in my life. Dan is a legend in this sport, and I was looking forward to defending my belt against someone of his caliber. I spent many weeks training specifically for Dan’s style, and I’m confident that I would have won if he had not injured his knee.

Now, after Dan pulled out of the fight a little more than a week before it was supposed to happen, it left me in a tough position. Yes, I was offered a fight with Chael Sonnen on really, really short notice, and yes, I declined it. What happened after that was out of my hands.

Do I feel bad that the other fighters on the UFC 151 card had their paydays pushed back? Absolutely. Do I feel responsible? Not really.

While my fight was certainly the most important on the card, it was only one of eleven fights scheduled for that night. I’m not a fight promoter, but if you have to cancel an entire fight card because one fight out of eleven had to be taken off, you’ve done something wrong.

It’s not that I wasn’t willing to fight Chael Sonnen at all. The man’s a great fighter, and I respect his willingness to step up with almost no advanced notice. But I wasn’t about to risk my title fighting someone I was not prepared to fight. We even offered to fight Chael at a later date, but apparently it was a now-or-never situation.

After that, it was determined that I would fight Lyoto Machida at UFC 152, which I gladly accepted. Then, when he declined and Vitor Belfort was put in his place, I accepted that too.

See? It’s not about who’s across the cage. It’s about having adequate time to prepare. You’ll see that on Sept. 22 when I flatten Belfort like everyone is saying I should. I know Dana White is very upset that I didn’t simply go along with whatever he wanted to do, but I have to look out for my own best interests.

Yes, the UFC has helped me achieve greater success than I ever could have imagined, but when that cage door shuts, it’s just me—alone—whose ass is on the line. At this point in my career, I need to be looking out for my best interests, and fighting anyone on a week’s notice would not have been a wise decision.

People can criticize me all they want for that, but they don’t have to live with the consequences of my decisions. I do.

So that’s my piece. Would it be great if every MMA fan wanted me to succeed? For sure. But that’s not a realistic vision. I know that no matter what I do, I’m going to make someone mad, and I’m okay with that.

My focus has always been and will always be on improving myself as a fighter. I’m still young, so I know that the next few years will be very important when it comes to perfecting the different parts of my MMA game. My coaches and teammates will always be there for me, both inside the gym and out, and I know that I always have a great family to support me.

You can love me. You can hate me. I’m just going to keep fighting. Thank you.

Photo: Jon Jones (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Eric Reinert
Staff Writer

Eric Reinert has been writing about mixed martial arts since 2010. Outside the world of caged combat, Eric has spent time as a news reporter, speechwriter, campaign strategist, tech support manager, landscaper and janitor. He lives in Madison, Wis.