The New York Times recently did an uneven profile of Jon Jones, that includes a description of how chance and fate played a major role in bringing him into mixed martial arts. World champions in other sports like baseball and soccer, characteristically start as children, and are groomed for years and years. By contrast, Jon Jones found MMA on a whim, via Twitter.
As the 185-pound state wrestling champion from Union-Endicott High School in Endicott, N.Y., Jones set his sights on the college wrestling powerhouses Iowa and Iowa State. Unable to qualify academically for those universities, he attended Iowa Central Community College, a five-time national junior college team champion, hoping to gain attention.
But after Jones won the 197-pound national junior college championship in 2006, he transferred to get a jump-start on a career as a police officer. He registered at Morrisville State College back in upstate New York to study criminal justice.
In the middle of his sophomore year, Jones’s longtime girlfriend, Jessie Moses, became pregnant with their first of three daughters, Leah, and his priorities shifted. He left college in 2007 five credits short of his associate degree, took a job as a nightclub bouncer and was close to accepting a full-time janitor’s position at Lockheed Martin for the health benefits.
At that point, fate, in the form of social media, stepped in. Someone on Twitter, who remains a stranger to Jones, saw his profile picture and offered the name of a local gym that trained mixed martial arts fighters. On a whim, Jones dropped by the place, Bombsquad MMA, in Cortland, N.Y., and began practicing for his debut fight, which took place in April 2008.
That timeline was not compressed for dramatic purposes. “It’s the God’s honest truth,” Jones said, laughing. “I had no real intention of being a UFC fighter, and this guy just threw the idea out there and I went with it.”
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