In April 2016, reacting to Jon Jones’ most recent brush with the law, Albuquerque Journal sports editor Randy Harrison wrote a column expressing the opinion it was time for the troubled and troubling MMA superstar to get out of town.
It was a well-written and strongly worded column that five months later was honored with an award for Harrison from the New Mexico Press Association. But, unspoken and unwritten — he’s my boss, after all — I disagreed.
There were lots of people, I thought, I’d rather see leave town than Jon Jones.
Drug dealers. Human traffickers. Those who habitually steal or destroy property not their own. Those who commit hate crimes.
And definitely, those who are guilty of domestic violence. Jones, for all his faults and foibles, at the time fit none of those categories.
It is for a court of law, not for me, to determine whether Jones is guilty of domestic violence after his arrest on that charge on Sept. 24 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Still, based on a police report describing blood on the face and clothes of Jones’ fiancée, based on her reluctant admission that yes, he got physical with her “a little bit” and pulled her by her hair, based on an Instagram post in which (while admitting no crime) he tacitly admitted something bad happened, I believe a line has been crossed.
So, Jon, here’s my suggestion.
Pack your bags.
Make yourself another city’s problem, not Albuquerque’s.
Jones was in Las Vegas on Sept. 23 to be honored by the UFC Hall of Fame for his role in a storied, 2013 fight against Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson.
Early the next morning, according to the police report first obtained by the website mmafighting.com, a woman approached the Caesars Palace security desk asking for a key to her room or, another officer wrote, a room of her own. Police, responding to a call from Caesars security, observed “blood all over (her) clothing and a bump with dried up blood on the lower part of her lip.”
The bedsheets in the hotel room, according to the report, also had blood on them.
Jones, meanwhile, was detained by police on the Las Vegas strip not far from Caesars. He initially resisted arrest and, according to the report, head-butted the hood of a patrol car, denting it.
The “injuring” of the police car constituted a felony, the alleged domestic violence a misdemeanor. Go figure.
Jones spent the night of the 24th in jail, then was released on $8,000 bail the next day. He’d been silent on social media until Tuesday, when he pledged on Instagram to stop drinking.
“I have way too much trauma to consume alcohol,” he wrote. “My brain simply can’t handle it anymore. I will leave alcohol in my past forever. … Turn this nightmare into the best thing to ever happen in my life.”
That pledge, and the incident itself, was greeted with we’ve-heard-it-all-before cynicism by UFC President Dana White. It’s unclear, though, what sanctions if any White’s organization might levy on its former light heavyweight champion and one of its top meal tickets.
The UFC twice has stripped Jones of the light heavyweight title, once after a hit-and-run crash in Albuquerque, once after a positive test for a banned substance. But he doesn’t currently own a title belt and, as he transitions from light heavyweight to heavyweight, has no fight scheduled.
“We’ll do what we always do,” White said on Tuesday after a UFC event in Las Vegas. “We’re very consistent in that we watch and see how this thing plays out legally and what happens. And then we’ll make a decision from there.”
Because Jones’ fiancée cooperated only minimally with police in Las Vegas, declining to file a formal statement or explain the blood on her face and on her clothes, it seems unlikely she’ll be more cooperative with prosecutors.
Regardless, could the UFC invoke its Code of Conduct, which calls out not just acts judged to be criminal but also “conduct that poses inherent danger to the safety or well being of another person,” and suspend or even release him?
Yes, it could. Will it? We’ll see.
In any case, the UFC can’t tell Jones where he should live and work. No one can.
But we can try.