Fight Card: Barefoot Bones (Fight Card Series Book 20)
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Earlier in the week, Jones, Derek Brunson, and I were talking about the differences between the mostly white churches in New Mexico and the mostly black ones of our youths, laughing about how long the latter's services are. It was funny! And it was true! Then he started talking about his relationship to the Lord. I thought I was all out of weed, but I found a nickel bag in the drawer, Lord. The champion at the ESPYs. At dinner, though, when I ask why he hasn't quite connected with fight fans despite how undeniable he is, he dismisses plausible factors like race and the idea that his serial dismantling of the sport's legends may have caused some bitterness among their fans, and invokes his faith in very different terms.
A lot of people don't mind that I have love for Christ; they just don't want me to talk about it. He sounds like he almost believes it, which is the thing: The more Jones tries to convince you of his humanity, the less human he seems. You can tell when Jon Jones the man slips on his mask to become Jon Jones the brand.
He squares his body to you, leans forward, and furrows his brow when you ask questions. His cadence changes.
He lies. He emphasizes the point. What are we even doing here? Caught red-handed, he cracks up. The two have been together since before he went to college; she's the mother of three of his daughters, and she's stayed with him through a lot of ups and downs. This October, a video of a naked Jones waving his ample dick around at a woman who is not Moses made its way online. We're happy. We're functional. We make a great team. She's a phenomenal mother, caretaker.
I'm a phenomenal provider, father. Team Jones. A pair of pretty waitresses come over. They banter for a time, Jones jabbing playfully as they blush and counter. Then he grabs one of their notepads and scrawls down his number, and they walk away. If people take Jon Jones for a hypocrite, it's because he is one—maybe no more so than any of the rest of us, but enough so that he doesn't make for much of an aspirational figure, at least not in the way he'd like to. But of course for all his flaws he's not like us, because he's the best in the world at something.
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And every so often, when that's challenged, all the obsessiveness and even cruelty that make him so come out, and we see Jones, the man, who was never more fun, more believable , than when he was at his most incredulous and most conniving while speaking to Cormier. And we can relate to this Jones, because he's exactly what we all want to be—someone who doesn't try to be anything other than what he is.
It just so happens that behind closed doors, he's someone who exults in being the baddest motherfucker on Earth. It's like he doesn't even know any of this, though. When I ask him where his drive comes from, he answers, "My story. The baddest motherfucker on Earth's story starts 2, miles from Greg Jackson's gym, in Rochester, N. When Jones was 11, his working-class family moved across the state to Endicott , where they lived in a little white house in a nice neighborhood on the outskirts of a bad one. His mother Camille made a living in development aid, working such long hours that when she got home at night, she'd often make Jon rub her feet for an hour or more.
His father, Arthur, was the oldest of 12 and the minister at a small storefront church, where every Sunday was a family reunion. Jon was the third of four; his sister Carmen was the oldest. Art was four years younger than her, and Jon just a year younger than him. Chandler, the baby, was three years younger than Jon. With their parents working, Carmen looked after her brothers, who adored her. They were all forbidden, in a house kept under strict discipline, from venturing out of their front yard into the hood.
For the first decade of Jon's life, everything was good. Then Carmen got sick. She had her brain scanned, and doctors found a tumor. Their father had to work, and so the Jones brothers had to help their mother take care of their sister. First, Carmen lost her long, beautiful hair; then she began to lose weight.
Her brothers taught themselves how to cook to feed her; then they learned how to change her feeding tubes; soon, they had to carry her any time she left her bed. The brothers, devastated, banded together, and focused on what they were best at. Art was the captain of the football team, and Chandler was the best player on every team he ever played on, but Jon—everyone called him "Boney"—couldn't catch a pass and could barely dribble a basketball. His calling was wrestling. After practicing against Art—already 6-foot-3 and pounds—other pounders seemed puny to Jon in comparison.
By senior year, Jon was ranked 11th in the country. In the year-end national senior tournament, he finished fourth. There was too much talent in the house for Jon to have had many opportunities to be one of the best at something. His parents, however, were much more concerned with their children reading scripture than their academic exploits, and his grades weren't great.
So after graduating in , Jon left his family and his girlfriend, Jessie Moses, in upstate New York, to head off not to one of the big traditional wrestling powers, but to Iowa Central Community College.
How Jon Jones Became The Baddest Motherfucker On Earth
In his first year, Jones won a national championship in the pound division and led his school to a team title. He also met a girl, who became pregnant with his first daughter. If things had gone differently, maybe Jones would have transferred again, won a D-I championship, and made the Olympic team; or maybe he would've retired from wrestling after graduating and become a cop. But in , Moses, who stuck with Jones, got pregnant with his second daughter. He was 20 years old, and already drowning. He applied to be a janitor at Lockheed Martin and had almost accepted an offer when someone—barely an acquaintance, his name now lost to his memory—reached out to him on Facebook about training at a gym in the area.
He decided to check it out, and immediately discovered that he was a natural. In retrospect, Jones, with his wrestling background and a freak athleticism that didn't quite translate to more traditional sports, was an almost ideal prospect.
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He quickly developed a routine: He would go to the gym to learn the basics of fighting, come home, and continue his training through YouTube. The story goes that Jones would watch anime and pro wrestling, and that he was already so naturally attuned to fighting that he could translate moves from characters like Goku and Triple H into techniques that would work in real life.
It plays into a theory that Jones was born with mental wiring that other fighters lack, a sense of spatial awareness that allows him to pull from sources other fighters can't access and translate the abstract into the real. I ask Jones about it. He really does watch anime; Dragon Ball Z 's his favorite.
And YouTube really was a learning tool. From the time he started training, Jones knew just how good he could be. He dreamed of retiring undefeated; he wanted to be not just the best, but the flashiest; and he wanted everyone to acknowledge how good he was. He wasn't content with being a star on fighting's terms. He wanted to be a mainstream star.
To get anywhere near that point would take a lot of work and a lot of dues-paying. He watched his idol, Muhammad Ali.
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He watched seminars from taekwondo and kung-fu masters. I'd study those fighters, and I made up my mind that I'd be all of those at once. Jones and Moses were expecting in July , and he needed money. With fighting outlawed in New York, he took his first bout in April, for a local promotion in Massachusetts. His opponent was Brad Bernard, a podgy, pink, winless barroom brawler from New Hampshire. There wasn't much to it. Bernard sucked. More importantly, Jones sucked. He moved like a newborn deer, all knobby knees and elbows.
But he was officially a professional fighter. He fought and finished four more men before July 11, when Moses gave birth to their first daughter, Leah. The next day, he fought Moyses Gabin in Atlantic City. He'd vastly matured in the few months since the Bernard fight, integrating high kicks, spinning back kicks, front kicks, and elbows into his striking. It was awkward as hell, but he could do it.
In the first round, Jones broke Gabin's nose with a punch. In the second, Jones bludgeoned Gabin up against the cage with a flurry of punches, then pulled back.
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Gabin sighed, and fell back against the fence. Jones's eyes widened; he shuffled his feet, Ali-style, and threw another combination. Gabin turned and took a knee.
Jones shuffled again, then stood over him, dropping shells until the referee intervened. Jones turned, blew a kiss to the crowd, and walked back to his corner like he was returning from a stroll in the park. Sexual Chocolaaaaaate Jones.