The bad blood that has developed between Israel Adesanya and Jon Jones is far from a secret, in fact barely a week goes by at this point in which there isn’t some form of barb between the two. Both men have thrown shots back and forth at each other in interviews and on social media, with the UFC middleweight champion taking aim once more in a recent interview with ESPN.
“That’s another thing the motherf*cker said, Jon Jones, motherf*cking Jones, he’s like, ‘Well, when I’m done, I’m glad people can remember my accolades rather than my walkout.’ It’s like, shut the f*ck up. People are going to remember you because you’re a drug cheat. You’re a steroid cheat. That’s what they’re gonna remember.
“All the sh*t you’ve done after Shogun [Rua], no one really cares anymore because they know you cheated. You popped in the same month as your brother in 2016. That’s all they’re gonna remember. So my walkouts are gonna be even greater than his whole career.”
These are strong words from Adesanya in what has devolved into a very personal beef between the two champions. Adesanya’s comments align with the majority of UFC fans as many people have begun to grow tired with the constant drama and question surrounding the career of Jon Jones, however taking this approach is still something of a risky strategy – not in the eyes of the fans, but risking provoking ‘Bones’.
Following his comeback to the UFC at the end of 2018, Jones has not appeared to be quite the same fighter that we saw during his initial title reign through the early 2010s. Many fans have attributed this to the history of anti-doping violations that Jones has racked up since 2016, believing that his past success was down to PEDs rather than talent.
However some fans have taken a different view on the matter, believing the reason we haven’t seen the best of Jones since his victory over Alexander Gustaffson is simply a struggle for motivation. Through his initial reign Jones was regularly facing off against some of the greatest fighters the division had ever seen, with no disrespect to Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos, neither man held a huge reputation before taking Jones on – at least compared to the calibre of the fighters that Jones is used to.
His next opponent, Dominick Reyes, seems to be bringing back the motivated Jones that we saw throughout the early 2010s. As I covered in a recent article it seems as though Reyes has lit a fire under the champion in a way we haven’t quite seen since his rematch with Daniel Cormier. If Jones comes into this fight and decimates Reyes, Adesanya may want to reconsider his approach.
If we see the best of Jones once more, as good as Adesanya is, I can only see that fight going one way. Jon Jones at his peak is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, in the same echelon as Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre. Adesanya may reach that level himself one day, it remains to be seen, however currently I’d take a prime Jones ahead of Adesanya.
The key date in all of this if February 9th. If we see the real return of Jon Jones that night, Israel Adesanya may want to start issuing apologies, because he does not want to stand across the cage from a pissed off and motivated Jon ‘Bones’ Jones.