As of now, 2016 has not been good for either Jon Jones and Adrien Broner. Between the arrests, very public feuds, and loss of a world title, two of the combat sport worlds brightest stars surely have visions of better days ahead.
But despite the similarities between these 2 men as of late, it seems as though Jones is taking far more of the public’s ire then Broner for his transgressions. In a perfect world, mistakes of any nature would be measured fairly and in context, but sadly, nothing is perfect. Let’s begin with Jones.
Following basically a 6 month layoff from the UFC, which resulted in his Light Heavyweight title being stripped as he waited for a decision in his hit and run case, Jones was welcomed back to the promotion with open arms in October of 2015. Technically, Jones was suspended by the UFC, but for an intensive purposes, this was a classic wait and see type situation. Jones could not be booked for any events with a possible jail term looming at any moment, and with public outrage high over his incident, the UFC had to finally take some action against Jones.
Following his re-instatement, it was announced almost instantly that Jones would rematch Daniel Cormier for the title Jones had lost due to the suspension. At this point, you can’t really fault the UFC for any handling of this situation. Jones was stripped of his title due to his legal issues, and once they were over and done with, he was fully within his right to resume his fighting career. The problem here though began after his re-instatement.
As of January 2016, Jones has been cited for at least 8 driving violation. On January 31, 2016, Jones was stopped by police in Albuquerque, New Mexico for driving without a license, proof of insurance or registration. On March 24, Jones was once again stopped by Albuquerque police, this time for equipment modifications, a license plate issue, failure to maintain a driving lane and exhibition driving. The ironic part of all of this is that only a day before his second stop, Jones was in court to settle his original issues. He was ordered to pay a $100 fine to a local charity, and make the promise to receive no further citations for the next 90 days. Obviously, this promise did not go well.
Far too many Jones fan, and media, have taken the approach that Albuquerque police are simply out to get him, which is either laughable or sad. Since 2011, Jones has been involved in 5 separate driving incidents, in 2 separate states. While 3 of these incidents have taken place in New Mexico, 2 of them resulted in basically a slap on the wrist. While everyone is focused on what the police state in New Mexico has been over the years, many are forgetting that criminals generally deny any wrongdoing when approached by authorities. Just because Jones told an officer he wasn’t drag racing does not mean he wasn’t drag racing, it means he simply told him he wasn’t. Regardless, a New Mexico judge imposed a sentence of anger management and driver improvement courses as well as do 60 more hours of community service within three months. Jones will also need permission from his probation officer in order to operate a vehicle.
With all this coming on the heels of an 18 month probation sentence for his infamous hit and run incident in 2015, any who believes Jones is getting a raw deal really needs to re-evaluate what they consider a raw deal. 8 violations in a span of less than 2 months, with a long history of driving violations, and he receives basically 60 hours of community service is a blessing almost any other person in Jones’ place would love to have. Now on to Adrien Broner.
Broner’s current situation, while far more serious, does not follow in the same pattern as Jones’ do. Yes, Broner has been arrested at least 2 times in the past, for biting a man in 2013, and for a DUI in 2015, but while a crime is a crime, a pattern of a certain behaviour is different than random, idiotic criminal acts. On January 21, 2016, Broner is alleged to have assaulted a man outside of a Cincinnati, Ohio bowling alley. The dispute, which has lead to a warrant issued for Broner on the charges of felonious assault and aggravated robbery, does hold a serious penalty for “The Problem” if convicted, but that is where the major difference between Jones and Broner begin.
Unlike Jones, Broner has only been charged with this offense, not convicted of anything. Being fingered for something by a citizen is far different than being stopped by a police officer while in the act of the “crime”. This is not to say Broner is 100% innocent because a police officer didn’t see it, just that accusations are very easy to make to the police, where police don’t really need to accuse you of something if they catch you themselves.
But whether either man is guilty or innocent isn’t really the purpose here. The main point of both incidents is, as of now, both men are being allowed to compete in their upcoming bouts. Jones is set to face Cormier on April 23th, at UFC 197, while Broner is scheduled to face Ashley Theophane April 1st on a Spike broadcast of Premier Boxing Champions. Using basic moral common sense, most people would agree that if you are facing charges of any kind, being allowed to compete on a world stage should be a definate no-no. But this is professional sports, where the moral high ground has usually taken a backseat to the almighty dollar. At this time, Broner actually has a warrant for his arrest still pending in Ohio, but since the warrant only applies to that state, his bout in Washington, DC, is at no risk of being stopped.
But even with both men in similar situations legally, Broner moving on with his bout has yet to reach the same level of public outcry of Jones, and this is for a very good reason. Boxing is not a promotion, it is a sport. We have seen numerous fighters released from the UFC for various offenses and being scooped up by rival promotions. While this bout is being sanctioned by the WBA, despite Broner losing his title due to a missed weight cut, they do not have any sort of ironclad Code of Conduct in place for any fighter competing under their watch. On the other hand, the UFC has a very well documented COC in place, which Jones has very obviously broken yet again.
Broner being charged is certainly not a good look at all, but this hurts his image more than anything. But this is the glory of the sport of boxing, you are not generally tied down to competing for one set governing body or promotion. Your entire career is almost spent as a free agent, looking for the biggest fight and payday anywhere you can find it. The UFC however, has made it clear that if you conduct yourself in a manner that discredits the promotion, you will fall under the axe that is the COC…unless you are considered a marketable fighter, then the rules can be changed, and leniency will be given.
The UFC Code of Conduct came into effect in 2013, and with no less than 4 indiscretions, Jones has been handed any sort of punishment once, the technical suspension mentioned above. Sure, we all remember the one day in rehab for his cocaine use discovered in a pre fight drug test, but if that is considered punishment, the definition of the word has changed.
Both Jones and Broner seem to have serious demons and issues going on in their lives at the moment, and while it is never good to wish harm, or incarceration, on anyone for problems such as these, the simple fact is that this may be what is needed for both men. Both have caused harm to another due to their actions, and both seem to carry the sadly typical attitude of “I’m untouchable” we see from far too many athletes or celebrities these days.
The difference however is that while both have committed serious crimes, only one is employed by a company that has publically chastised behaviour such as this. Should Broner be held to a similar COC, if even an unwritten one, for his actions? I would agree yes, but the fact is that it does not really exist where he is now, but clearly does where Jones is. Broner cannot be held to the same standard as Jones when Jones has that standard attached to his name by his employers.
I’ll leave one simple question for all the Jones supporters: Has anyone claimed police misconduct in any of Broner’s offenses over the years, or for any other athlete with a recent police history?
The UFC has set the standards for its athletes, but seem to overlook, or ignore, the actions of some. So forget comparing what one did as opposed to another, start asking why rules in place are not being enforced despite numerous violations of them. This isn’t about Adrian Broner or the police, it is about Jon Jones.