UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones had a busy weekend. In addition to saying he would vacate his 205-pound title, he also served a bit of street justice in his adopted hometown.
Like many others, Jones is tired of opportunists polluting the message of peaceful protestors who are fed up with the inhumane treatment of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement in the United States.
Early on Monday morning, Jones posted a video of him confronting two would-be vandals in the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he trains at Jackson Wink MMA. Take a look as Jones demands the two young men give him their “spray cans.”
As you can see, the 6’4″ all-time-great mixed martial artist didn’t receive much resistance from the young men.
Jones’ comment on his own post is perhaps even more poignant and important than his actions in the video. He wrote, “As a young black man, trust me, I’m frustrated as well, but this is not the way. We are starting to make a bad situation worse. If you really got love for your city (505) (the Albuquerque area code), protect your s###. All you old heads need to speak up, call your young family members and tell them to come home tonight.”
Someone may have read this statement or even the headline for this article and immediately allowed their minds to drift toward Jones’ past transgressions and personal struggles. That would be unfortunate because Jones’ issues are preventing them from seeing the truth and wisdom in his statement.
As a black man who has been the victim of police injustice more times than I can remember, like Jones, I am angry at the murder of George Floyd. However, also like Jones, I also know that the senseless violence, looting, and vandalism taking place is not the right approach. It is making a bad situation worse, and moreover it is playing into the stereotypes that so many racists attempt to place on the heads of African-Americans.
Perhaps other athletes on Jones’ level will use their influence to persuade the young, angry and misguided to harness their energy and direct it toward a peaceful solution that brings about real change rather than serves to bury the issue beneath other negatives.
Jones has given his critics plenty of ammunition to fire at him through his mostly stellar, but often tumultuous mixed martial arts career. However, on this day, the man they call Bones couldn’t be more correct.
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