"When I was, like, 20 years old, I had this voice-mail message that said, ‘Hi, this is Jon Bones Jones, the light heavyweight champ.’ I was speaking it into existence and carrying myself like I was the champion way before I was even in the UFC. It’s crazy that it all played out.”
“I want to change our sport with something positive, to brighten up people’s lives and get them to look more on the positive side about every little thing.”
This is precisely the sort of comment that polarizes UFC fans, many of whom don’t like self-righteous knockout artists. On message boards, fans call him an “arrogant b----” and accuse him of faking the humility.
The truth is that Jones is racked with self-doubt. He begins every morning reading motivational quotes to get himself going, and he is haunted by the fear of getting knocked out while millions of people are watching.
“Sometimes I look back, and I want to be rude to people who didn’t believe in me. But that’s not what I do,” he says. “I try to treat everybody with love. But when I go home now, to the people who treated me like a loser, I’m, like, the hero of our whole town.”
“My road wasn’t easy, by any means. That’s why when people call me cocky, it’s, like, the biggest blow I can get. It’s like, ‘It’s not me! I’m sorry I’m coming across that way.’ I don’t think I’m better than anyone.”
“I heard this story once of this football player who, whenever he scored, just handed the ball to the ref. And I thought that was really cool, like, ‘This is what I do. I score touchdowns.’ I wasn’t trying to be cocky or anything, but that’s what I was thinking: ‘This is what I do. I defend my title.’ ”
I ask if it bothers him that the fans don’t seem to appreciate his greatness — that even though he’s beat a string of legends, they still boo and jeer him when he weighs in before a match and walks into the ring.
“I don’t hear them, to tell you the truth,” Jones says. “I can’t please everyone. Some people are going to love you, and some are going to hate you, no matter what you do.”