When Jon Jones got inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and noted on the red carpet that he was bulking up to north of 265 pounds for his heavyweight debut, Chris Daukaus was excited that a legend of his caliber was joining the division.
Less than 24 hours later, Jones was arrested on charges of domestic violence for an incident at a Las Vegas hotel involving his longtime fiancee as well as injuring or tampering with a vehicle after he allegedly slammed his head into a police car while being taken into custody. Since that time, Jones has proclaimed that he’s given up alcohol, which he believes led to many of his worst decisions outside the cage, while still focusing on a return to the octagon in 2022.
On Tuesday, Jones struck a deal with Nevada prosecutors that saw the domestic violence charges dropped and Jones plead guilty to destroying the property of another. The latter resulted in a misdemeanor sentence in which Jones must pay a fine in the range of $25-to-$250 and $750 in restitution to the victim of the property damage. He has also been instructed to attend anger management counseling.
Even with Jones’ most recent legal issues settled, the incident has created a messy situation for Jones’ professional career after it was expected that he would become an immediate threat to the heavyweight title. For Daukaus, any talk of Jones’ potential comes in second to the multiple-time light heavyweight champion sorting his outside-of-the-cage issues.
“I had him [in the heavyweight division] before he got inducted into the Hall of Fame and everything else that happened, with him coming out and saying he wanted to get to 270, 275 pounds and come down, I thought he was serious about it,” Daukaus said when speaking to MMA Fighting prior to the latest on Jones’ legal situation. “There’s a whole big thing that goes on behind the scenes, I thought that Jon got everything in his personal life together and I thought he was really going to be making a big push as far as getting into the heavyweight division and getting his title shot, which if he feels like he truly deserves that, then he truly deserves that. If people agree with him and it’s going to make them a boatload of money, go ahead and do it but after seeing what happened, I don’t know if the UFC is going to be able to take another chance on him with everything going on.
“I kind of think that Jon just has some personal demons that he needs to work out. He just continues to shoot himself in the foot.”
Of course, Daukaus isn’t alone when it comes to criticism that Jones has faced throughout his UFC career. The now-34-year-old New York native is still widely considered one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time while simultaneously being notorious for torpedoing his own career several times over the years with numerous arrests as well as performance-enhancing drug allegations.
This latest incident was certainly the most disturbing after a police report revealed details that included Jones’ fiancee having blood on her face and clothing after allegedly getting into a physical altercation with the fighter.
Jones maintained his innocence following his arrest, but he was initially jailed on allegations of domestic violence just hours after being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, one of the biggest achievements of his career.
“He has all the physical abilities and things like that to be the greatest of all time at 205 [pounds] and it would be foolish of me to think that he couldn’t do that at a different weight class,” Daukaus said about Jones. “I just think Jon Jones is in Jon’s way.
“I hope Jon figures it out, not just for his career life but outside for his personal life outside of fighting. At the end of the day, it’s like, who are you going home to and you don’t want to go home to create that drama at your house with your wife and your kids.”
In the aftermath of his latest arrest, Jones left his former team at the Jackson-Winkeljohn Academy in Albuquerque following a falling out with head coach Mike Winkeljohn after he was temporarily banned from the gym.
Jones has since worked with another gym affiliated with coach Greg Jackson while also spending time in Arizona alongside former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo.
With a potential title shot of his own looming in 2022 if he gets past Lewis at UFC Vegas 45 on Saturday, Daukaus still welcomes the opportunity to have Jones join him in the heavyweight division but he can’t help but question what it will take for the longest-reigning 205-pound champion in UFC history to finally get his act together.
“I just think Jon is in Jon’s way,” Daukaus said. “He needs to get out of his way. I honestly think he needs a complete change in his life. If Jon really wants to make a change in his life, he’s going to have to completely reinvent himself.
“Everyone thought he was going to reinvent himself when he was going to heavyweight but he reinvented himself in his career but not in his personal life. I think he needs to actually sit back and take an unbiased look at his life and why does this keep happening?”
While Jones continues to insist that he’ll become heavyweight champion in 2022, Daukaus isn’t going to waste much time contemplating that possibility or any other while he’s got his own career to worry about.
As far as the heavyweight division goes, Daukaus believes with Francis Ngannou as champion, Ciryl Gane as interim champion, and a growing list of up-and-coming contenders — including the former Philadelphia Police officer himself — no one is going to miss Jones if he never actually competes there.
“Five or ten years ago, the division needed a Jon Jones,” Daukaus said. “Competitive-wise with the amount of talent that’s coming up through the ranks right now, we have more than enough people who can take over that superstar role.
“It’s all about getting the right fights and talking [to the media] and making the right fights and capitalizing on them.”