Brian Stann hopes the UFC’s punishment will help Jon Jones turn his life around. | Gleidson Venga/Sherdog.com
Former Jackson-Wink MMA teammate Brian Stann had some very candid comments regarding Jon Jones’ current situation.
Stann, who trained alongside Jones at the Albuquerque, N.M.-based gym as the former light heavyweight king rose to prominence in the Las Vegas-based promotion, told UFC Tonight on Wednesday that he wasn’t exactly surprised to see “Jonny Bones” fall from grace.
“I’d love to be able to say I was shocked, but I was not,” said Stann, who retired from mixed martial arts in 2013. “I’d say a 4 or a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. I think that just has more to do with details surrounding it, and how it went down.”
Jones was suspended indefinitely by the UFC and stripped of his 205-pound title after being arrested in connection with a felony hit-and-run in Albuquerque on Monday. He was supposed to defend the belt against Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 on May 23; now Daniel Cormier will face Johnson for light heavyweight gold.
The timeline of events that led to Jones’ downfall began in Albuquerque on Sunday morning, when he allegedly ran a red light in a rented SUV and crashed into another vehicle driven by a pregnant woman. Jones allegedly fled the scene of the accident but returned to grab a handful of cash before leaving again. Jones was identified by an off-duty police officer.
The woman suffered a broken arm as a result of the crash, and a pipe containing marijuana was discovered when police searched Jones’ car. Authorities were unable to make contact with Jones for more than 24 hours before a warrant was issued for his arrest. Jones turned himself in on Monday evening and was briefly held at the Bernalillo Country Metro Detention Center before posting $2,500 bail.
Jones appeared in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court on Tuesday but did not enter a plea. A second court appearance has not been set. He and his legal team briefly met with UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC President Dana White and UFC COO Lawrence Epstein in Albuquerque that day, where a decision was apparently made to suspend Jones and strip him of his title.
“I was there the first day he set foot in [Jackson-Wink MMA] gym. And from Day 1, people knew there was something unique about him. Immediately he was a guy who had a lot more to lose than everybody around him, and the leeches and the people came out that wanted to take something from him early on,” Stann said. “So he has dealt with a lot of temptation. No, we can’t sugarcoat this. The fact of the matter is he’s lucky. He’s very lucky. This is the second time he’d been involved in an automobile accident where he was not the only one involved. And a broken arm is a minor injury. Somebody could have died, and that’s an unfixable mistake.”
The alleged hit-and-run incident seems to be part of a disturbing trend in Jones’ behavior in recent years. In May 2012, Jones was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated after crashing his Bentley into a utility pole in Binghamton, N.Y. He would plead guilty to a misdemeanor DWI charge and avoided jail time.
Last summer, Jones engaged in a media day brawl with Daniel Cormier at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas that resulted in a $50,000 fine from the Nevada Athletic Commission. Far more troubling was the revelation that Jones tested positive for cocaine during a pre-fight drug test ahead of his victory over Cormier at UFC 182 on Jan. 3. “Bones” checked himself into a New Mexico rehab facility but left after just one night.
Up until now, Stann doesn’t believe Jones learned much from his previous transgressions. However, the loss of a title, a Reebok endorsement deal and the right to work might very well change his perspective.
“Specifically what I’d like to see from him is, I’d like to see him think more. I’d like for him to stop for a second and think about the consequences of his actions,” Stann said. “And not only the consequences for himself, but all the people around him in his family that care about him, that love him. Not necessarily all the fans and everything else. Look, he’s a professional fighter. We can’t expect him to be perfect, and he’s got to start thinking about what he does and how he lives his life and how it affects other people.
“I think this latest punishment hit him hard where it hurts. It hit his wallet, it hit his legacy and it took away a belt that he earned,” Stann continued. “These are things that he cherished. You gotta hope that he’s feeling remorse right now, that he’s not feeling sorry for himself. That he genuinely feels bad about what he’s done and realizes what he’s done is wrong. That’s what I hope we see from him in the future.”
In his early days of training alongside Jones, Stann says he saw a different person than the one that is portrayed in the media today.
“It’s interesting because I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that during my time training with Jon, that I didn’t witness him be kind and caring and a person with character -- and not do these types of things,” he said. “I remember when he had the loss to Matt Hamill and it was a simple rule break that he wasn’t fully understanding of -- he handled that with class, and he handled that with character. I remember that Jon.”
While Stann was surprised at how swiftly the UFC disciplined Jones, he believes the promotion sent the man who became the youngest champion in UFC history in 2011 a much needed wake-up call. Stann also believes that anyone who truly cares about Jones is satisfied with the terms of the punishment.
“If you’re a person that cares about Jon and has seen the possibilities and the snowball effect of some of his extracurricular activities and maybe saw this coming at some point, I think you are happy with punishment,” Stann said. “This is the only way for him to really realize that there’s a problem and that something needs to be fixed. I don’t necessarily think I saw that after the cocaine incident or after the DWI. I don’t know if that was really there for him. This is massive embarrassment. This is a lot of money he has lost. And he’s lost his right to work right now. He can’t go make money indefinitely.
“If you’re a person that cares about Jon, I think you wanted something to happen that was so bold and such a statement that it will cause him to re-evaulate how he lives his life and make the appropriate changes.”