UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones will enter tonight’s title-defense against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 135 with the trappings of tremendous hype brought on by his meteoric rise in Mixed Martial Arts.
Only 24-years old, and essentially undefeated fourteen fights into his career including a number of dominant wins against highly-respected opponents, Jones’ status as the top competitor in one of MMA’s deepest divisions has earned him as much anger from fans as adulation. Whether his personality rubs certain people the wrong way or they simply don’t like to see others’ overwhelming success, “Bones” has become anything but a consensus fan-favorite since bursting on the scene nearly three years ago.
Jones is aware of the negativity, as he made clear in a recent interview on the UFC website where he spoke about how it has affected him.
“I did feel the hate. Me being a young guy and a guy who wanted to be liked, at first it hurt me a lot,” Jones admitted. “But what I learned very fast is that I need to take my emotions out of my work sometimes, especially when it comes to other people’s opinions. I’m a positive being, that’s my nature…I’m not a person who ever Tweets swear words or ever tries to purposely try to put someone down or hurt them. I’m not a person of ill will. I genuinely try to share knowledge on self-confidence and religion and treating your neighbor right and believing in yourself and working hard and loving your family. And I know in my heart that I’m not doing the wrong thing, so if I’m just trying to help, and people are misconstruing it, I’ve learned not to worry about what I can’t control anymore.”
“I was talking to Brian Stann,” Jones continued while referencing his teammate at Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. “And he said ‘Hey man, you think you get hate messages? I get called a murderer. People think I’m an advocate of war, and I get a lot of hate. And the thing is, the people who actually love you Jon, they’re probably gonna read your interview or watch your YouTube video, and think ‘Wow, what a great guy.’ Most of the people who write those messages, they’re people with nothing else to do but to bring somebody else down. Only people that are below you can pull you down.’”
“That stuck with me,” Jones concluded. “So I learned that as long as I know that I have good intentions, I don’t allow people to misconstrue my words and pull me down.”
However, that doesn’t mean the champion is all smiles and butterflies.
“I know I’m a good person, but, as an athlete, I do have a chip on my shoulder, I do have a big ego as an athlete, and I do believe that I’m the best…I do want to be the best. That’s something I can’t control, and I really can’t hide my pride in the Octagon because I work my butt off to be the best. I’m not ashamed of it anymore.”
Fans can find out whether or not that hard work will pay off when Jones and “Rampage” lock horns later this evening on PPV with the broadcast starting at 9:00 PM EST. UFC 135 preliminary fights will also be available in the hours leading up to the main card with a handful streaming through Facebook (6:00 PM EST) and a pair on Spike TV (8:00 PM EST).
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC