Jon Jones is done fighting the "arrogant" tag many critics have labled him with. "I think I am. I think I am a little arrogant," the UFC light heavyweight champ said Monday.
Jones defends his title against Glover Teixeira Saturday at UFC 172 in Baltimore. Jones became the youngest UFC champion in history over three years ago and sometimes seems to have as many vocal critics as he does ardent fans.
Jones undoubtedly works quite hard to achieve and maintain all that he has in the sport and so used to bristle at the criticism that he was "cocky," or "arrogant." Now, the young champ has seemed to make peace with the fact that all elite athletes (elite anything for that matter) need a certain amount of selective arrogance to succeed.
"I think it's really important. The thing about me I say all the time is, I notice that I'm full of myself and I am arrogant to some degree, but it's obviously only when it comes to talking about MMA, where literally, I do the wildest stuff," Jones said.
As for his personal life, Jones said that is where he is just normal old Jon. "I don't think I live like a celebrity at all," he said.
"All my friends are normal people, normal dudes who do the most normal stuff all the time. But when it comes to MMA, there is a big chip on my shoulder. There is a way that I look at myself, and I think it's really, really important. It's something I'm not really apologetic for. As I get older and as I win more, I start to embrace it even more. The biggest thing is not to be apologetic for it. I realize it's a big part of the reason I'm able to perform out there. The moment I let fear seep is the moment the fights start getting closer and closer. So yeah, I think it's important to be an absolute believer and have that confidence."
Jones cites the strong way he closed his last title defense, against Alexander Gustafsson, last September. Jones was on his way to perhaps losing his fourth straight round to the Swede challenger when he says he decided that was quite enough.
"It was the fourth round and I literally looked up at the clock before hitting him with that elbow, and when I looked up at the clock, I realized, 'I may be losing here. Let me win. Let me win,'" he said.
"I simply won. I simply started winning. I think that's something champions have."