Earlier this morning we told you all about Phoenix Jones' arrest over the weekend for pepper-spraying an angry mob. We also told you that we were withholding (at least for the time being) Jones' real name until prosecutors decide to press charges in the case. Apparently The Smoking Gun has no such qualms about unmasking Jones. About 20 minutes after we made our decision and published our report, the website outed Jones as 23-year-old Benjamin Fodor, and called him a "costumed kook." With the proverbial cat now out of the bag, here's a little more background information about the man who calls himself Phoenix Jones.
|Ben Fodor, aka Phoenix Jones.|
According to MixedMartialArts.com, Fodor has a career record of 11-0 with four knockouts in 10 amateur bouts and one pro fight. His last fight was apparently on July 31, 2010. His Twitter account (@FlattopFodor) says he is the "Current two-time Ax Lightweight Champion, & Current Welterweight Champion in Washington State."
Here's footage of his first fight in December, 2006:
Fodor's other claim to fame -- aside from being Phoenix Jones -- is his adopted brother, Caros Fodor. Also an MMA fighter, Caros fights professionally in the elite Strikeforce organization. In previous interviews, Caros has detailed how he was one of four children adopted by a single mother. He and Ben were once bitter rivals, but "their common bond in MMA" eventually helped them settle their differences.
When I interviewed Jones earlier this year, he discussed how his exploits as Phoenix Jones have affected his MMA career and whether his superhero personae is an attempt to generate publicity for his future matches. Here's what he said:
I'm already a very established fighter. People know who I am. People know who I am in the fight world. It's not about fame in that aspect. I've had a lot of people from fight companies who know what I do say 'If you fight as PJ, we'll give you this much cash.' It's not about that. I think my fight career, even if everyone in the world knew I was under this mask, I would never admit it until my fight career was at a level that I felt was adequate to take this mask off and say I'm successful here and I'm successful here.
Whether the Smoking Gun report will finally make Jones 'fess up to being Ben Fodor remains to be seen. What's remarkable, though, is that despite being the subject of hundreds and hundreds of media reports in this day and age, he managed to keep his true identity secret from the public for more than two years.
When I last spoke to him, Fodor refused to acknowledge or answer to his real name. He claimed that being unmasked could put him and his family (he has a wife and young kids) at risk of retaliation from various criminals he's had encounters with as Phoenix Jones. I was never truly convinced that was the case, but agreed nonetheless to protect his identity, at least in the Seattle Weekly feature story. I assumed it would only be a matter of time until someone more reckless* unmasked Jones. Turns out I was right. It just took longer than I thought.