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Latest trouble suggests the new Jon Jones may just be spinning his wheels

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

On the bright side, Jon Jones only got five tickets this week, none of which were felonious in and of themselves. On the flip side, he got arrested this morning for violating his probation, and that could have felonious implications. "Bones" can’t throw a rock without hitting somebody wearing a badge. It’s almost comical, in the way that bad jokes can sometimes be.

This time Jones was cited for drag racing in New Mexico, and you’d like to think he was trying to race back — or ahead — to the person he hoped to become all those years ago, before his troubles began. He was at least revving his Corvette’s engine at the red light, depending on which side you listen to, his or the officer’s. And let’s face it, the cop who pulled him over came off like a smart ass with a mean big brother.

In any case, you know what it feels like, this latest incident, so close to Jones getting in trouble for driving without license or proof of insurance (while still on probation for the felony hit-and-run charge that cost him his belt [while still sporting a black eye for testing for cocaine, which was met with greater scrutiny given his previous DUI in upstate New York])?

Like we’re exhausting that thing we call "the benefit of the doubt." That’s the unfortunate spot that Jones finds himself in. You only want Jones to stop showing up on the police scan.

Not that Jones doesn’t believe he’s trying to do better. He does believe that. He’s been trying to get back to some original version of himself. Yet, somehow, even in his deep mulligan stages, the greatest fighter the UFC has known can’t get his intentions and his actions to connect.

The problem with Jones seems to be that he’s two people; he’s the person he imagines himself to be, and he’s the person that he is. The former is a work in progress that may never become actual. The latter keeps ending up on TMZ calling the local cops liars and pigs, or in courtrooms, or floating around the Internet in the form of a mugshot. What the public is left to deal with is the awkward confluence of these two people, the devil on one shoulder openly mocking the angel on the other. His sincerity has fallen into question. Jones at his most righteous is nothing more than Jones hypothesizing out loud.

And the more that comes out, the more defiant he gets. Not defiant of his actions, but defiant that you know more about him than you should.

Yet this time at least Jones tried to get out in front of things, as if to show he’s added a few new wrinkles to his game. Jones was a guest on The MMA Hour on Monday and broke the news of his latest brush up himself, just minutes before the video surfaced. That was smart. He didn't know at the time he would be arrested within 24 hours.

On that same show, he said he wanted people to view him as a comeback story, as he tries to regain his light heavyweight title from Daniel Cormier at UFC 197. That’s a narrative he likes. He said he wants to "represent hope" and, now that the mixed techniques can be showcased in his native New York legally, one day fight in Rochester, where he was born. The kids in Rochester could use a positive influence, he said, and it would mean something to him to be that influence.

It was classic Jones, the role model one minute, the troubled case the next. Some people want him to go full heel, to become an iconoclast in the sport. He can’t. There’s an on-going struggle inside of him to be perceived as a saint; perceived, that is, not necessarily to be one.

Still, you can’t help but pull for Jon Jones to at least meet his more realistic expectations. Has he cleaned up his act? Getting arrested for drag racing would tend to skew your judgment. It’s not easy to be a full-time Jones fan, because the truth is it requires more gullibility than people are willing to give. You want to believe him each time he trumpets his new resolve, but it's like that quote in the movie Naked, "resolve is never stronger than in the morning after the night it was never weaker."

Such has been the cycle of the pound-for-pound best the sport of mixed martial arts has yet known.

If he’s right about one thing, it’s that people do like a comeback story. His would be no different, if only...well, you know, April 23 couldn't get here soon enough.

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