Childhood & Early Life
Jon Jones was born on July 19, 1987, in Rochester, New York, to Camille Jones and Arthur Jones Jr. Jones’ family is deeply religious. Arthur Jr. is a pastor at the Pentecostal church in Endicott, New York and Camille was a nurse.
He has two brothers. His older brother, Arthur Jones III, is a retired professional American footballer who played for Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, and Washington Redskins of the NBA. His younger brother, Chandler Jones, is also an American footballer, who is currently signed to Arizona Cardinals of the NBA. In June 2017, Jones’ mother passed away after losing her long battle against diabetes.
Jones displayed his inherent athletic gifts since he was a child. A stand-out high school wrestler, he was the winner of the state championship at Union-Endicott High School in upstate New York. Like his brothers, Jones was also interested in American football and played in the position of a defensive lineman. Because of his lanky frame, the coach began to call him “Bones”. The nickname stuck as he would later use it during his MMA career.
At Iowa Center Community College, he became the winner of a national JUCO championship. He then came to Morrisville State College to get a degree in criminal justice. However, Jones soon realised that his true passion was mixed martial arts. He dropped out of college to pursue MMA professionally.
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Career, Controversies, & Later Life
On April 12, 2008, in Boxborough, Massachusetts, Jon Jones made his professional debut in an FFP: Untamed 20 catchweight (210 lbs) bout against Brad Bernard and won the match in the first round via technical knockout. His next opponent was Brazilian mixed martial artist Carlos Eduardo. The match took place on April 29, 2008, in Atlantic City, New Jersey as part of the Battle Cage Xtreme 4 event. This was his first light heavyweight match. He won via knock out (punches) in the third round.
His next three matches were against Anthony Pina, Ryan Verrett, and Parker Porter, all of which he won. Jones fought his sixth professional match against Moyses Gabin at Battle Cage Xtreme 5 on 12 July 2008 in Atlantic City. This was his last bout before he joined Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He defeated Gabin via technical knockout in round two for the USKBA Light Heavyweight Championship.
Jones debuted in UFC in a match against Brazilian fighter Andre Gusmão at UFC 87 on August 9, 2008, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The bout went the distance, lasting the full three rounds, and Jones was declared winner via unanimous decision.
His next opponent in the UFC was Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94 on January 31, 2009, in Las Vegas, Nevada. This one too went the distance and Jones won via unanimous decision. On July 11, 2009, he faced Jake O'Brien at UFC 100 and won by submission (guillotine choke) in the second round. The fight helped him secure a contract for another four fights with the UFC.
On December 5, 2009, Jones fought fellow American fighter Matt Hamill. Jones started dominating the match right from the beginning. However, as the first round was drawing to a close, Jones hit Hamill repeatedly with downward elbow strikes. As those are illegal in the sport, a point was deducted from Jones’ scorecard for the round. It was then revealed Hamill would not be able to continue because of a dislocated shoulder.
As a result, Jones was disqualified. After reviewing the replay simulation, the commission supported the referee’s ruling. UFC President Dana White has since stated that the loss should not have been counted and the match should have been declared a no contest. This was the first and the only loss in Jones’ career.
In 2010, he appeared in two fights, against Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko, winning both matches in the first round via technical knockout. After defeating Ryan Bader at UFC 126, Jones got his first title opportunity against the then-champion Maurício "Shogun" Rua. His training partner, Rashad Evans, was supposed to face Rua but suffered an injury during training and had to pull out of the match. Jones was offered the chance as the replacement and went on to win the bout by technical knockout in the third round on March 19, 2011, becoming the youngest UFC champion ever.
During his first reign as the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jones performed dominantly in every single bout. He fought and defeated some of the best fighters in his weight class. His title defence was against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, whom he defeated via submission (rear-naked choke) in the fourth round. He then successively won against Lyoto Machida, his former teammate Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, and Chael Sonnen.
According to Jones, the toughest fight of his career was against Swedish fighter Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165. The match went back and forth with both men suffering lacerations and facial swelling. Eventually Jones won by a controversial unanimous decision.
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Jones fought his next opponent, Brazilian mixed martial artist Glover Teixeira on April 26, 2014, at UFC 172 after the fight was postponed several times. He defeated Teixeira via unanimous decision.
While initially Jones was supposed to have a rematch with Gustafsson after his win against Teixeira, the opponent he truly wanted was former Olympian Daniel Cormier, who had been undefeated in professional MMA up until that point.
During the promotional tour, the animosity was clear between the two. They even got into a physical altercation and Jones was subsequently fined $50,000. He also claimed that he lost a six-figure endorsement deal with Nike but later confessed that he grossly fabricated the matter. As for the match itself, it took place on January 3, 2015, at UFC 182 and Jones won via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46).
His next opponent was scheduled to be Anthony Johnson on May 23, 2015, at UFC 187. However, on April 27, 2015, Albuquerque, New Mexico police announced that they were looking for Jones in connection with a hit-and-run incident. It was reported that Jones passed an intersection having a red traffic light without stopping and got into a collision with two other vehicles. Afterwards, he left the scene on foot while there was a pregnant woman still trapped in one of the two other vehicles.
Subsequently, Jones was arrested and later was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation. UFC stripped him of his belt and suspended him indefinitely on 28 April. Jones eventually returned in a fight against Ovince Saint Preux on April 23, 2016, at UFC 197. He won the bout by unanimous decision.
Jones wanted a rematch with Cormier to be his next fight. It would have happened on July 9, 2016, at UFC 200 but Jones was taken off the fight after a potential drug violation. On November 7, 2016, the announcement was made that Jones had been suspended for a year and stripped of his interim title.
He made his second return on July 29, 2017, at UFC 214, where he finally had the rematch against Cormier. While he struggled in the first two rounds, he ended up knocking Cormier out with a kick to the head, followed by a series of strikes in the ground in the third round. As a result, Jones regained the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship belt.
On August 22, it was revealed that Jones has been marked for a potential drug violation by United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). According to reports, he tested positive for Turinabol. On 13 September, the test for the “B” sample came back positive too. The match was subsequently declared a no contest and Jones was stripped of the Light Heavyweight title a second time. If the charges against him are proved to be true, he can be banned for up to four years.
Jon Jones met Jessie Moses in high school and they began dating soon after. After graduation, Jones left for Iowa Central Community College and Moses attended Broome Community College in New York but the relationship survived the distance. They have three daughters together. Jones and Moses became engaged in 2015. He subsequently announced the news on his Twitter account on April 1, 2015. The family currently resides in Ithaca, New York.
Their first child, whom they named Leah, was born in 2008, the same year that Jones made his professional MMA debut. Moses gave birth to Carmen in 2009 and Olivia Haven in 2013. Carmen was named after Jon’s late sister, who passed away due to brain cancer at an early age. On December 1, 2016, in an interview to Joe Rogan, Jones stated that he also has another daughter who is older than Leah.
At the start of his career, Jones used to train with Team BombSquad out of Cortland, New York. He then joined the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Canada. Recently, he has trained with Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jones has been the first MMA athlete to be sponsored by Nike on the international level. He is the first MMA star who has his own shoe line.