With the super-great fighters, there's often a phrase that is repeated: The only person who can beat them is themselves.
In the case of Jon Jones, that appears to be true. In a gigantic blow to his career, Jones was flagged for a possible U.S. Anti-Doping Agency violation. He is out of UFC 200, which will cost him millions of dollars. Worse, it could cost him two years of his career. If it turns out that Jones was taking a performance-enhancing drug, he could be banned for two years.
Jones on Thursday claimed that he did not cheat, but no one knows yet what the violation could be. The USADA flagging is a stunning blow to Jones, the UFC and his opponent Daniel Cormier. All three entities stand to lose a lot of money.
Jones' amazing fall is surprising, but he's not the first athlete or sports entertainer to beat themselves outside of the cage or ring, rather than lose inside it. Jones was the favorite going into the fight with UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Cormier.
Let's look at some others who self-destructed in ways similar to Jones.
What time is it? It's Hawk Time!
One of the most gifted professional boxers of the 1980s, Pryor had fast hands, quick feet and knockout power in both hands. He dazzled the crowd and was a thrill to watch. Pryor began his career 36-0, defeating the great Alexis Arguello twice.
But drug use derailed Pryor's potential and he ended his career 39-1. At the height of his career, Pryor became addicted to cocaine use, failing to defend his title and eventually entering rehab. Pryor was then knocked out by fighter who he would have destroyed earlier and his career. He never returned to his early glory and retired as a fighter with "what could've been" potential.
Oscar de la Hoya
The former Olympic Gold Medalist in boxing enjoyed a mostly successful career, winning multiple world titles and capturing mainstream success. But then De La Hoya fizzled. Why? Well it is very difficult for athletes to remain successful for a long time, particularly in combat sports. There is always someone younger, quicker and stronger coming around the corner.
But De La Hoya's demise may have been exacerbated by his admitted abuse of alcohol and drugs. He has said that he abused alcohol all throughout his historic rise. Eventually everything caught up to him. He never won the big, big fights, the ones against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Bernard Hopkins and "Sugar" Shane Mosley.
Even as a promoter, post-fight career, De La Hoya struggled with addiction. At one point the Golden Boy posed in women's lingerie while under the influence of drugs. A sad fall for a one-time great champion.
At one time, Tyson was untouchable. He defeated his opponents before stepping inside the ring. He scared them into defeat.
Tyson, when he was young and managed closely by Cus D'Amato seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, but after D'Amato died and Tyson aged, the wheels eventually came off. Tyson was famously knocked out by James "Buster" Douglas, a 42-1 underdog, in a fight that took place in Tokyo. Tyson in his book titled "Undisputed Truth" admitted this:
“I was a full-blown coke-head,” Tyson wrote in Undisputed Truth.
Tyson also said that he first tried cocaine at the age of 11 and was given alcohol as a child. He served time for a rape conviction, and was never the same fighter when he returned from his layoff. This man, once considered on par with the great Muhammad Ali, beat himself outside of the ring, allowing others to beat him inside the ring.