Jon Jones told the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) in September that he lost his endorsement deal with Nike due to his infamous brawl with Daniel Cormier during a press event in August. Jones admitted Monday that wasn't exactly true.
"When I was in front of the commission, I definitely worded it wrong," Jones said on a UFC 182 media conference call. "Nike did not drop me because of that fight and I kind of owe an apology to Nike for saying they dropped me because of the fight. They actually didn't. Nike has been known to support its athletes through much worse things than a brawl in the middle of MGM [Grand]."
Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champion, said months earlier his Nike representative told him that the apparel company was moving away from its association with MMA. Jones said the rep told him that he could continue on with his contract, but it was clear that he wouldn't be getting all the things he was initially promised, like commercials.
"I said, 'You know what, if you guys aren't too serious about martial arts, then I don't want to be a part of the company,'" Jones said. "Hopefully, I can respectfully leave."
Nike agreed and gave Jones, who had just finished his second year on the deal, an out in his contract.
"It was already official," said Jones, who meets Daniel Cormier at UFC 182 on Saturday in Las Vegas. "Everybody at headquarters knew. My team knew that I wasn't gonna do my third year with Nike. And then we got into the brawl."
At that point, Jones said his rep called him and said maybe it was best to part ways a little earlier. So, that's what happened. Jones said the actual circumstance did not come out correctly in front of the commission. Both Jones and Cormier were fined and had to do community service as penalty for the incident.
"The truth of the matter is, I did not get dropped by Nike," Jones said. "It was a mutual thing, something we had discussed months before the actual fight."
Jones has subsequently signed a deal with Reebok, the company the UFC will use as its official uniform sponsor. Obviously, Reebok is much more invested in MMA right now than Nike and Jones is happy about that.
"These guys are taking mixed martial arts very seriously," Jones said. "They're taking me very seriously as an athlete."