Jon Jones has come under scrutiny as of late for the parallels drawn by his employers of himself and boxing great Muhammad Ali. Started by a UFC magazine cover featuring Jones underwater in a fighting stance similar to Ali, the correlation began. According to photographer Michael Muller he believes there is something special about the current light heavyweight champion. He states, “Jon is our 21st Century Muhammed Ali in my opinion, and we’re taking him underwater and kind of putting my spin on it.”
The champ takes the suggestions as flattery and as a challenge to become greater.
“Muhammed Ali is one of the best of all-time. So to be compared to him, and to have opportunities like this, it’s mind-blowing. I’m extremely grateful for it and I’m going to continue to work hard so more things come like this.”
Following a recent promotion from the UFC titled ‘The champ is here,‘ once again relating Jones to Ali, the comparison had the media and fans questioning Jones’ feelings on the comparison.
“It adds more pressure (the Ali photo shoot) but I consider it fun. Ali had many flaws in the person that he was, but I loved Muhammad Ali. I watched every interview he done. I’m a huge fan of Muhammad Ali but I don’t want to be him. I want to the best Jon Jones. I want to be better than Ali. That was the UFC’s idea, people on the outside looking at me in a positive regard. I think it’s awesome and what it does, for most young fighters it will get to their head, but for me, it motivated me and it empowers me to train harder. If I don’t become greater than Muhammad Ali, that’s my own fault. That’s why I train so hard.”
This kind of exposure can only be good for the sport, and for Jones himself. He has been called immature, arrogant, and full of himself by opponents and media alike. One thing that has to be remembered he is only 24 years old. He should not have to be perfect. At one point in their career every fighter as been young and cocky. Jon Jones is truly what the sport needs a young, dominant champion who can grow into his skin and emerge as a big homegrown draw for the UFC. Only time will tell if he can fulfill that, but he is taking all the right steps so far.