The Hunted

Ton Jones is always on a mission. The hefty, tattooed juggernaut— along with his business partner Allen Haff— travels throughout the United States to film Auction Hunters. The reality television series, which airs Tuesday on Spike TV, documents the dynamic duo as they bid on abandoned storage units, scurry through their newfound treasures, and sell them to avid collectors.

While the two hunters are always excited to find big money items, Jones was especially thrilled when he discovered something in a storage unit of value and relevance to mixed martial arts. For now, he’s refusing to disclose any other details. “We found something that is very close to the world of the UFC and MMA,” he says. “It’s pretty awesome. It will be airing this season.”

Jones is a huge fan of MMA. The California native has been following the sport since the 1990s and distinctly recalls one of his favorite battles between Tank Abbott and Kimo Leopoldo at UFC 43. Since the storage unit guru is based on the West Coast, he is able to attend many local MMA shows, and it’s those small promotions that interest him the most. “I watch a lot of fights at our fairgrounds in Antelope Valley, which holds fights for the guys trying to break into the upper ranks,” he says. “We watch the up-and-comers scrap it out, trying
to be noticed. Those fights are the best. Those guys just straight beat each other up.”

While Jones is a regular at the local fights, he managed to take a break from his hectic filming schedule to attend his first Zuffa-produced event this past January when he got seats to UFC 125. Headlined by the UFC Lightweight Championship bout between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, the big man drove all the way to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to see a couple of his favorites—Nate Diaz fought Dong Hyun Kim, and Clay Guida battled Takanori Gomi.

“Guida’s energy is amazing,” he says. “No one can match it. I think he has Monster Energy Drink running through his veins. I just love his intensity.”

However, Jones’ favorite UFC employee isn’t a fighter or even a ring girl. It happens to be Jacob Duran, the cutman more affectionately known as “Stitch.” In fact, the auction hunter sat right behind him at UFC 125.

“We were in the middle of the fights, and I ordered a soda and some candy,” Jones says. “I’m hanging out, waiting, and Stitch was like, ‘Wow, that waitress is not coming back. Do you want part of my granola bar?’ So, he breaks it in two, hands me half, and he’s like, ‘This is a good one. It has the chocolate and marshmallows in it.’ He was so nonchalant. He’s so chill and so laid back. That dude is awesome. The UFC would not be the same without him, and he doesn’t get enough credit. He puts everybody’s faces back together— plugging arteries, flesh wounds, and torn scar tissue. He is just so chill when he’s doing his job. He knows that he’s gonna get it done. He deserves all the respect in the world.”

While Jones is a diehard MMA fan, don’t expect him to ever put on a gi and roll around on the mat. He may have a few martial arts classes under his belt, but he’s not wild about the conditioning, training, and overall athletic lifestyle required to become an ultimate fighter.

“I’ve bounced in bars for quite a few years, but I don’t have the time or the discipline to do what these guys do,” he says. “That’s why I give them so much respect. Their lives revolve around the gym and their diet. I can’t pull that off. Man, if I roll by a steakhouse and see a 64-ounce steak, I’m all over it. These fighters are like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna have my protein shake, my egg whites, my oatmeal, and eat that for three meals a day.’ There’s no way I could pull that off.”

Jones may never compete in the cage, but he will battle against other dealers when it comes to storage units. In fact, the big man and his buddy Allen Haff attend between five and 10 storage unit auctions a week, and they will fight to get the best units at the lowest price possible.

His profession isn’t nearly as glamorous as viewers may think. “To be successful in this business, you’ve got to be up early and dig these units in and out every day,” Jones says. “You don’t go to your first auction, buy one unit, and strike it rich. You could lose $10,000 before you hit a unit that could bring you $30,000. It’s not easy. It’s a lot of work, backbreaking trips to the dump, organizing everyone else’s crap, sorting through everything, and then finding people to sell it to.”

On top of that, their filming schedule is immensely hectic. Haff and Jones shoot 20 to 26 straight weeks, work at least 12 hours a day, and usually only their monstrous success stories are shown on television. But the dynamic duo continues to have their adventures aired on the current season of Auction Hunters. Jones remains tight-lipped about the MMA heirloom he recently acquired in his hunt, but he is confident that it’s something true MMA fans will appreciate.

“Just make sure you tune in,” he says, “It’s pretty awesome.”

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