Jon Jones: Less Like Jordan, More Like Tebow

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

13 COMMENTS
  • hindsightufuk says:

    i think its down right disrespectful to even mention Jones alongside some of the greatest icons in sporting history. guys like Pele, Ali, Jordan etc. These guys did as much for black people as they did for their sport, more in some cases. Pele’s impact on an entire nation is almost unmatched.
    Jones is just a fighter in the UFC. Maybe one day he’ll become more but for now he is far from iconic status.
    and much as i hate to say this, he is one of thw whitest black men around. brother cant even dance, what the fuck

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  • Dufresne says:

    Jones is undoubtably a great talent, but he’s only got 15 fights to his name. When he has defended his belt 6 or 7 times, then we can start talking about putting Jones up with MMA’s all time greats.

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  • Rece Rock says:

    Still don’t know what to make of jones… he’s def. at the top of the mma world but other then that I don’t see much main stream appeal regardless of how many interviews or media realted stuff he does he just doesn’t seem to have star power to carry himself or the sport to a level of a Jordan or a Pele…. I think he will have his moment in the sun and be a star in the sport but he isn’t ever going to do Brock Lesnar #’s or even wind up on a cereal box… I think his star power is only bright inside the octagon.

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  • edub says:

    Your age is showing here Jeremy…

    “Jones isn’t a technically sound fighter but he gets the job done with his creativity, strength, and athletic ability.”

    Jones is technically sound, about every singe aspect in the cage. That’s why he it able to stray off the beaten path so easily, and try off the wall things. His clinch striking, and transitions from both are perfect. His takedowns are among the best in MMA, and his positioning on the ground is stellar.

    “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.”

    Rashad left because his little feelings got hurt after Jones got the belt. He lashed out at Jones for saying he’d fight him if he was forced to by Dana or get fired. Orton is gone because he sucked, plain and simple.

    Finally, the last thing: Tebow is in a team sport, that just so happens to have a group that has gotten better in every aspect out of the QB’s control since Tim took over (Defense: Points, yards, turnovers, sacks. Running back yards gained, Running back and wide reciever turnovers, etc.). He’s winning, and is hella exciting; but he’s not the dominant force that Jones is in his particular sport. Jones is a top 5 PFP fighter in the world. Tebow is barely a top 10 quarterback.

    If your looking for somebody to compare him too in combat sports history (at this point in his career) the guy that comes to mind the most is Sugar Ray Robinson (the greatest boxer in history).

    Side note: For everybody who doesn’t think Jones has done enough yet: He defends 3 or 4 more times, and does it against Machida, Evans, and Hendo. Then he is the best LHW in this sports young history, no question.

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  • edub says:

    You also have to realize, that things like the Thrilla in Manilla, Ali’s jump towards greatness, and Jordan ascendance as the man in boxing (plus Tyson’s monumental push in the 80’s), all were products of their time period. The Thrilla in Manilla was fought between two legends of a sport that was only surpassed in popularity by Baseball at the time. It was also a shady project set up in a war torn country. These things are impossible to duplicate today. Jordan took over the NBA in a time period where Bird and Magic made it one of the most exciting spectacles in the entire world (The two most popular players on the first dream team weren’t Jordan, I can assure you that). Again, something that can’t be mimicked today.

    If anybody wants to link Anderson to Jordan right now, they would be correct because Anderson is the best fighter in MMA’s short history. If they try to say he’s as popular or as widely love as Jordan was they would be dumb.

    Ron Harper, Isaiah Rider, and Harold Minor were all linked to Michael Jordan at one point Detlef Schrempf was linked to Bird. Penny Hardaway was linked Magic. Evander Holyfield was linked to Archie Moore. Tommy Morrison was linked to Rocky Marciano, and the list goes on.

    MMA fighters are linked to other sports because it has no long timeline, and because of the shoddy skills in its early history none of the fighters now are linked to people from 20 years ago. You don’t see people going around saying Jon Jones is a new age Don Frye.

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  • Jones isn’t a technically sound fighter. He doesn’t throw leg kicks properly, he doesn’t counter at all, he doesn’t use a jab despite his reach, he doesn’t use his striking to set up his takedowns, he leaves his arm on the mat too often on the ground. But he gets away with all that because of his freak athleticism, power, and brain. He’s obviously a great fighter, but there are holes in his game.

    Don’t see your point on the Orton/Evans thing. They were both the top guys, they both left thanks in large part to Tebow and Jones, Jones/Tebow took over. Doesn’t matter how it happened.

    As I said, this isn’t a 100% serious comparison, but it’s also not as lazy as people who want to say Jones is Jordan or Ali. Just because Jones is the best in his sport, doesn’t make him Jordan. That diminishes what Jordan did off-court. I understand MMA is a young sport, but that doesn’t mean certain people need to go around and act like what Jones is doing is the same as what Ali did.

    Jones is great. No one disputes that. But don’t say he’s the Michael Jordan of MMA just because he’s a great fighter. Just say he’s a great fighter.

    As always, thanks for the comments guys.

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  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Why bring race into it and who fuking cares? I think he will be to MMA what Jordan was to basket ball. The stand alone best. Im not going to get into the other stuff and who the fuk is Tebow?

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  • stone says:

    I’ve been saying Jones is the Michael Jordan of mma since I saw him fight Bonnar…. Back then he was Like a young Jordan schooling Bird and right about now he’s the Jordan around championship #1 or #2…… Fedor is Shaq…. Greg Jackson is coach Phil Jackson….

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  • Dufresne says:

    Tank Abots is the John Daly of MMA.

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  • Dufresne says:

    Abbott*

    stupid phone…

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  • MCM says:

    Royce Gracie is the Chris Everett of MMA.

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  • edub says:

    “Jones isn’t a technically sound fighter. He doesn’t throw leg kicks properly, he doesn’t counter at all, he doesn’t use a jab despite his reach, he doesn’t use his striking to set up his takedowns, he leaves his arm on the mat too often on the ground. But he gets away with all that because of his freak athleticism, power, and brain. He’s obviously a great fighter, but there are holes in his game. ”

    There’s holes in everybody’s game. He used his striking to set up takedowns against both Bader and Rua. Every time he shoots his knee drags perfectly against the ground, which is why with such a tall frame he is still able take down top tier fighters with relative ease. Each time he’s clinched with somebody against the cage his arms are in perfect position (either underhooked or or locked on one side with an attempt to strike). He is never in a bad position on the mat, and he is always looking to pass or submit. There are many more instances of this.

    Jones not being a technically sound figher might be your opinion, but its not an accurate statement. Striking isn’t everything in MMA.

    “Don’t see your point on the Orton/Evans thing. They were both the top guys, they both left thanks in large part to Tebow and Jones, Jones/Tebow took over. Doesn’t matter how it happened.”

    So Jones is a just like Steve Young too?

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  • Pretty cool article. Anderson Silva is more like a Jerry Rice in my eyes. Innovative and unique. While I agree that makin the comparisons of all these fighters to other legends of sports can be a tricky business, no one can completely confirm or deny the comparisons till sometime down the road.
    I personally think Anderson is a cross between the Jordan and the Jerry Rice of MMA. Have the current champions taken the sport to new heights yet? Of course not…will they…oh hell yeah!

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