Jon Jones has been compared to a lot of people during his rise to the top of the UFC light heavyweight division.
The two most comparisons are Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali. I must say, the similarities between the two are pretty outstanding. Jones and Jordan are both winners and they’re both black while Jones and Ali are both cocky (although you’re crazy if you think Jones is anywhere near as cocky and brash as Ali), they’re both winners, and they’re both black.
Yup, I totally see where people are coming from when they say that Jones is like Jordan and Ali.
Fact is, they have very little in common. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted, and still want, Jones to act more like Ali and embrace his cocky side, but I’m not naive enough to believe that they’re on the same level of importance.
Ali and Jordan took their sports to new heights. People tuned in every single time they fought or played, everyone in the world knew who they were, and everyone in the world had an opinion about them. Jones hasn’t taken his sport to a new level (in fact, while it’s not the fault of Jones, PPV numbers are down compared to previous years) and he’s not nearly as popular or talked about as Ali and Jordan. Will he get there one day? Maybe. But lets hold off on putting him on the same pedestal of those two until he does.
You know who Jones reminds me of? Tim Tebow.
Now I know that it’s like an unwritten rule of journalism that you can’t cross races when comparing athletes but hear me out.
Young, very open about his religion, unorthodox with his style, is a winner, inspires the people around him, everyone in his sport has an opinion about him, and saves elderly women and little babies, ran the previous alpha dog out of town, hasn’t taken their sport to a new level.
That sounds like both Jones and Tebow to me.
People either want to put Jones and Tebow on a pedestal or they want to tear them down. The truth is, neither should be compared to the greats of all-time in any sport (yet) but there’s also no reason to tear them down.
Tebow isn’t a natural quarterback who can stay in the pocket and read the defense, but he gets the job done by making timely throws and extending the play with his legs. Jones isn’t a technically sound fighter but he gets the job done with his creativity, strength, and athletic ability.
Both men are very open about their religion and often times mocked for it by people who believe that God doesn’t play favorites. Both men inspire their teammates and take them to new levels. The Broncos have the same team they had when Kyle Orton was the QB and yet they were 1-4. With Tebow, they’re 6-1. You know who won TUF 14 this year? Two Greg Jackson fighters who happen to train with Jones.
Prior to the arrival of Tebow, Orton was the man at the helm in Denver, but due to the fan backlash and Orton’s poor play, Tebow took over and now Orton is no long in the Mile High City. And we all know about the whole saga between Jones and Rashad Evans, who was the top dog at Jackson’s before Jones.
Tebow and Jones haven’t taken their sports to new levels, especially to the level that Jordan and Ali did. I don’t think people who link Jones to those two really understand the cultural and worldly impact that Jordan had on basketball and Ali had on boxing. Tebow and Jones, at least for right now, are interesting stories who are captivity today’s fans. They’re not transcending generations because they haven’t been around long enough to do so and they’re definitely not well-known outside of the sports realm.
Here is my overall point in case you actually think I’m 100% serious with this comparison: stop comparing Jon Jones and current MMA fighters and fights to some of the all-time greats in the respective sports.
Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua was not even close to Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier 3. If you think that, then I advise you to read Ghosts of Manila or watch the HBO documentary on the fight to see what kind of impact the Thrilla in Manila had on boxing, the two fighters, and the world.
Just because guys like Jones, Georges St. Pierre, and Anderson Silva are three of the best fighters in the world, doesn’t mean they should be linked to Ali, Wayne Gretzky, and Pele. It’s a lazy comparison done by people who either don’t understand what those players meant to their sport and beyond or it’s a lazy comparison done by people who are just trying to get attention.
As dumb as the comparison might be, Jones is a lot more like Tebow than he is Ali or Jordan, but don’t tell that to MMA personalities with an inferiority complex.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC/NFL