Gallery Photo: UFC 152 Photos
TORONTO -- When Jon Jones turned down a fight and UFC 151 was canceled, the blame was sent squarely in the UFC light-heavyweight champion's direction. Among those angry with the 25-year-old were his bosses; the UFC's top executives Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta said they were "disgusted" by his decision.
But according to both sides, the parties have now moved past the mess and hope to be moving towards a productive future.
Jones' side reported that a face-to-face meeting held with White on Friday went well, and after Saturday night's UFC 152, the company president was all smiles in talking about his dominant champion.
"We had a great talk yesterday," he said. "Leading up to [this week] was good. I’m not going to talk about anything that we talked about yesterday. We both kind of shook hands as men and made a couple agreements to each other that I will keep and hopefully he’ll keep his and we’ll have a great relationship."
Jones had never before angered his bosses, having taken short notice fights on more than one occasion in the past, including the bout in which he captured the belt. But his refusal to fight Chael Sonnen on Sept. 1 sent a ripple effect through the company that ended in a massive financial loss.
Jones had already had trouble with fans, many of whom believe that he does not present his genuine self to the public, and his choice not to fight was seen as selfish by them and others, costing him more fans.
At UFC 152, he received a mixed reaction with more boos than cheers, though it sounded like he won some hearts back with his fourth-round submission win over Vitor Belfort.
White said that he believes as Jones continues to win and grow comfortable in his own skin, he'll become a more beloved star.
"There’s times when it just feels like he’s not comfortable with who he is, which is kind of weird because he’s a great fighter," White said. "He really is a good guy; he’s not a bad guy. You know me. If things go south and I don’t see eye to eye and things aren’t right, I’ll let you know."
One thing Jones has always been able to do is leave his public life at the octagon door. When he steps into the cage, there's yet to be anyone who's challenged him for any length of time, even if Belfort gave him a brief scare.
"He’s made some mistakes and now it’s time for him to fix them," White said. "He’s going to be around for a long time. He’s not going anywhere, unless he does it to himself."
For his part, Jones acknowledged he'd made a lot of mistakes, saying he'd gotten away with a "lot of stupid things," and that he was still working on improving himself both in the cage and out.
"I'm just really grateful for being here and being alive and being able to grow and take things a little more serious," he said.
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