Jon Jones is the type of man that has been on a journey of discovery for a long, long time, probably his entire life. But to say that his journey intensified over the past couple of weeks would be an understatement.
When UFC president Dana White pulled the plug on UFC 151, much of the criticism he and other leveled landing squarely on Jones’ shoulders.
Yes, Jon Jones turned down a short-notice fight with Chael Sonnen, but he readily points out that he was ready to go when it came to his original opponent, Dan Henderson, and that he was only doing what was right for himself and his family.
It was Henderson that pulled out of the original UFC 151 main event, injuring his knee in training.
Still, Jones was hammered by everyone from White to fans to media for declining a short-notice bout just eight days removed from fight time… but he’s not apologetic about it. In fact, he considered it one of those important learning points in his life.
“I’ve said it before as far as the lesson that I learned,” Jones said during a UFC 152 media call on Tuesday to promote his fight with Vitor Belfort. “It’s just kind of a sad message, but it’s a legit message. At the end of the day, people are going to do what’s right for themselves. I did what was right for my family.
“(Dana White) did what was right by himself, by blaming a lot of other people around him. I did what was right by myself by not (taking the fight). That was the lesson ultimately learned by me. At the end of the day, people are going to do what’s right for themselves. It's natural human emotion to survive and that's what we both did.”
Jones’ approach to the whole UFC 151 cancellation has brought more realization to him as well.
With all the criticism leveled at him, particularly among other fighters and a faction of fans, Jones’s skin has gotten a little thicker.
“I train so hard to not even get hit, let alone to talk about losing a fight,” Jones told MMAWeekly.com. “I love this sport so much; I owe it to myself to think of myself in the highest regard. So I'm not going to apologize if I'm a little full of myself when it comes to MMA. You gotta be full of yourself, because that’s how you master yourself, that's where you master your abilities. Be the biggest critic of yourself and be able to praise yourself and speak highly of yourself.
“So I’m not apologetic about that, that slight arrogance I may hold when it comes to being a martial artist.”
Sometimes his comments place Jones in a public role of being the villain, but he won’t sit for that. He believes in his heart that he’s a good person, “the nicest person ever,” and he won’t sit back and be painted into a dark corner.
“I’m not going to embrace the role of being the villain, because I’m not a villain,” Jones declared. “At the same time, I'm gonna make comments and say things that I think are true.
“I want to express who I am as a person and this is who I am.”
Stay tuned to MMAWeekly.com for more UFC 152 news and updates.