Tuesday evening, it was announced that UFC light heavyweight champion and greatest fighter of all time candidate Jon Jones failed a drug test. Again. This pissed off legions of fans, a contingent of whom have been taking it out on a game developer named Jon Jones, who—just to be clear—is not a disgraced UFC champion.
Jones, a game developer and author who just released a book titled How I Escaped Evangelical Hell, has been dealing with confused UFC fans for years due to his Twitter handle, @jonjones, which he’s had since 2007. We previously interviewed him in 2015, shortly after the UFC’s Jon Jones drunk-drove his Bentley into a lamp post, competed in a professional fight with cocaine in his system, and fled from the scene after of a different car wreck in which he broke the arm of a pregnant woman, but before he got popped for performance-enhancing drugs the first or second (and most recent) time. The UFC’s Jon Jones is famously one of the best fighters ever to live, but he’s even more famously a goddamn mess.
Each time the UFC’s Jones has slipped, irate fans have poured into game developer Jon Jones’ DMs and notifications, but never quite like they have been this week. “This is the largest volume of tweets\attention it’s ever been,” game developer Jon Jones told me in an email. Since the news broke on Tuesday, he’s gained more than 7,000 new followers, and his tweets have gotten over 30,000,000 impressions.
The UFC’s Jon Jones, you see, was supposed to finally be on the trail to redemption this time—within spitting distance of the finish line. After a year-long suspension, he’d just come back to KO his arch-rival, Daniel Cormier, and reclaim the UFC light-heavyweight belt he lost in a fight not with another human being, but with his own demons. And while there’s still a chance that a contaminated supplement or foul play is to blame, it seems like Jones has let everybody down. Again. MMA is, after all, a sport where fairy tale endings go to die. If the punches to the face don’t catch up to you, the institutional corruption probably will.
It’s actually kind of interesting for game developer Jon Jones, who says that after all of UFC champion Jon Jones’ falls from grace, many of his fans aren’t even mad anymore. Letdowns, perhaps more than anything, come part and parcel with being a Jon “Bones” Jones fan.
“In the past it was a lot nastier and more personal with the threats,” said game dev Jon Jones. “ On the whole, I’m getting an almost even mix of anger, disappointment, sympathy, and sadness from people... I’ve noticed a roughly equal number of fans accept [UFC fighter Jon Jones] no matter what he does, and other fans that just hit their limit and say they’re no longer fans.”
Game developer Jon Jones might not be a millionaire superstar fighter with elbows so sharp that airport security has to check them for serrated edges, but his life’s a bit more on the up-and-up even as he, too, has to roll with the punches of UFC champ Jon Jones’ audience. His book, which is a memoir about how his career in video games helped him escape from an abusive radical Evangelical environment, is out, and while he admits that it’s “niche,” it’s getting some extra attention thanks to all this steroid business. He told me he even sold four copies in one day this week. “Woo!” he added.
More broadly, game developer Jon Jones says that shoveling heaps of somebody else’s abuse out of his online driveway has, in a strange way, been good for him. “These random deluges of dimwits helped me get a lot better at Twitter, which has been a lot of fun for me,” he said. “I used to keep [my] account mostly business and a little personal stuff, but I recently decided to let it be purely a personal account and let my hair down a bit. So, I say fuck a little bit more.”
Game developer Jon Jones, then, plans to ride this wave until it crashes against the shores of the internet’s short attention span and then get on with his life. At this point, he’s not sure if UFC champion Jon Jones, who he expressed a lot of sympathy for in our last interview, will be able to do the same.
“I remain sympathetic,” said game developer Jon Jones, “but damn, he needs to fire whatever friends he has that let him do this to himself. The longer this goes on, the sadder it gets. If his story keeps getting sadder still, I’m going to start staying quiet when these hit the news. I have a feeling that my ‘not Bones’ shtick has a limited shelf life, and that’s fine. I wish it were for happier reasons.”