Jon Jones says UFC 214 will allow fans to ‘forgive and forget’ many past mistakes

For the past few years, Jon Jones has been defined by two very different stories regarding his career.

On one side, Jones has been regarded as the single greatest talent the sport of mixed martial arts has ever known. He’s the longest reigning light heavyweight champion in history and was only two wins away from tying the all time record with Anderson Silva when he defeated Daniel Cormier back in 2015.

For all those accolades, Jones has also been tied to his numerous screw ups outside the cage including a DUI arrest, testing positive for cocaine, a hit-and-run accident that could have ended with serious jail time and finally another positive drug test, this time for a banned substance that landed him a one year suspension.

That last incident cost Jones a chance to reclaim his title last July and so he’s had to once again sit on the sidelines while the UFC moved on without him. He saw Conor McGregor become the biggest star in the sport — a spot he arguably could have occupied if he never went through these trials and tribulations.

Jones also witnessed Cormier — his most heated rival — go onto become champion and defend the title on two different occasions while he could do nothing but watch from the outside looking in.

As Jones finally prepares to make his return to the Octagon on Saturday night for a second fight with Cormier, his goal isn’t as much about settling the score with a fighter he doesn’t like but instead it’s time to reclaim his spot as the greatest fighter the sport has ever known.

It’s time for Jon Jones to reclaim his legacy.

“I think it’s a big fight, for my legacy. The last time something bad happened, it was two years ago. I think people fail to really realize that. Over the last two years I feel like I’ve really done the right things to get my life back in order,” Jones explained ahead of UFC 214. “I’ve paid for the things I’ve done wrong, I’ve faced the time for the things I’ve done wrong. And then I have this estrogen blocker situation happen. I think it sent me backwards. I’ve been proud of myself for cleaning up my life.

“The perception is that my life is still a little out of control. If you knew me and if you lived in Albuquerque, and you saw all my relationships with people and the community and the way things are turning around for me, you would see things differently. The UFC 200 situation really set me backwards. I’ve forgiven myself for the things that have happened and I feel like I’ve done all the right things to get my life back together.”

Jones believes more than anything a win over Cormier will not only give him back the light heavyweight title he never actually lost, but it will serve as a cathartic moment to put the past few years behind him.

When his career is finished, Jones wants to be remembered for his many accomplishments as a mixed martial artist and not as a cautionary tale to other athletes about wasted talent that was never truly realized.

That’s why winning at UFC 214 is so important to Jones because it will signify the start of a new chapter in his career — one defined by his greatness inside the cage rather than his exploits outside of it.

“I feel like this win on Saturday, it’s going to allow the fans to forgive and forget a little bit about that hit-and run car accident and stuff to get excited about my future,” Jones said. “I think that getting this belt back is going to set everything in the right direction for people to remember why I’m an and exciting fighter, for people to remember why I’m one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in the sport.

“I think people have forgotten about the things that make me special. I’m excited to get this win so that it will outweigh what happened two years ago and allow everyone else in the MMA community to start to move forward and to heal in the way me, my friends, family and my teammates have moved forward from it already.”

As much as the build-up to UFC 214 has been about the disdain shared between the two fighters involved in the main event, Jones promises that his focus has been more about the bigger picture than worrying so much about Cormier.

Of course, Jones knows that the most tumultuous stretch of his career started after his last fight with Cormier ended so in a weird way this is bringing everything full circle with the rematch at UFC 214.

In a perfect world, Jones would defeat Cormier on Saturday night and not only close the chapter on their rivalry but then turn the page to a new start in his career where he hopes to go down as the greatest fighter in the history of the sport.

“This fight, for me, is about legacy. It always has been,” Jones said. “I’ve had big fights with guys like “Rampage” Jackson, who hated me, who tried to make me look like a fool. Rashad Evans, we fought for the pride of Jackson’s in the main and the pride of Albuquerque. Chael Sonnen in UFC 151 was a nightmare. He talked so much trash leading up throughout The Ultimate Fighter. And then DC, I’ve been in this position so many times with having an antagonist. It’s always been about chasing greatness. That’s what I’m here for.

“This DC chapter’s going to be over on Saturday and he’s going to be a part of my legacy. At the end of the day he will be remembered as one of Jon Jones’ great contenders.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.
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