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Jon Jones on MMA and Money: 'I Refuse to Be a Broke Athlete When I Retire'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones fights to fuel his competitive fire and be the best athlete he possibly can be.

But he also wants to get paid, telling reporters on Tuesday, "I refuse to be a broke athlete when I retire."

On a UFC 151 media teleconference on Tuesday promoting his fight with Dan Henderson, Jones was asked about recent comments he made about Lyoto Machida.

Machida has been mandated by UFC Dana White as the next light heavyweight challenger, but Jones balked at the potential rematch stating Machida was his poorest-selling pay-per-view draw of 2011.

On Tuesday, Jones went in depth about his motivations for the comment.

"I want to focus on Dan Henderson at this point, and not worry about Lyoto Machida, but when it comes to a pay-per-view conversation in general, I fight for honor and integrity and I fight to be the best. I try to keep martial arts experience in mind as much as possible."

"At same time, I'm a 2012 warrior and I fight to provide for my family. This is a sport where we don't have a retirement plan and we don't have insurance for the rest of our lives, so the money that I make today is the money that's around for when I'm 80 years old and if I ever get sick, or, I have to pay for several colleges already because I have a lot of kids."

The NIKE-endorsed Jones understands that a portion of MMA's hardcore fan base has a mentality that the sport should be entirely about the honor of fighting, and that making big money is akin to selling out. But he said the fans just simply need to understand that fighters need to consider their future, as well.

"Right now, I'm on this call with you reporters because you want to write the best story so you can make money. Well you know, I fight to make money, quite frankly. So, if I was to not be involved with my time, and be completely ignorant to my finances, and pay-per-view sales, and taxes, and investing, you know, it would be a shame. I refuse to be a broke athlete when I retire. So, I don't apologize for being aware of pay-per-view sales, and being business savvy."

Jones has two brothers in the National Football League: Art, a standout lineman with the Baltimore Ravens, and Chandler, a rookie defensive back with the New England Patriots. Jones compared love for MMA with love for football.

"My whole reason for picking up MMA gloves in the first place was because I had a kid on the way," Jones said. "My original goal was to be successful in my parents' eyes. I was the college dropout between me and my brothers. ...

"Say the NFL, I'm sure they're really passionate about football, but they don't go out there because they love it that much, they do it because they want to be the best, and they want to provide for their families, so it's so much more than if you love it. If I didn't love it, I wouldn't want to be champion."

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