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Dana White: Jon Jones 'should embrace' being 'the bad guy'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jon Jones has vacillated from goodie-too-shoes to social media troll during his career. UFC president Dana White thinks he should just go full heel.

White said Tuesday night on FOX Sports Live that Jones should accept his role as the villain in his fight with Daniel Cormier. Jones will defend his UFC light heavyweight title against Cormier at UFC 182 on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

"I think he should embrace it," White said. "He's kind of come off like the bad guy in this thing. All the stuff that happened behind the scenes, when they were doing the interviews after the fight in the MGM lobby, Jones was 100 percent the bad guy."

Jones (20-1) admitted in a media conference call Monday that he has fostered a certain public image. He doesn't curse during interviews and wants to come across as a good Christian for his fans and potential sponsors. Slowly, though, he has come to grips with the fact that people are going to love him or hate him regardless of how he attempts to come across.

"I've been pretty resistant," Jones said. "No one wants to be the bad guy. But at the same time, people tag me to be the bad guy. I've learned to just let go. Let go."

The 27-year-old champ said he was somewhat "grateful" that hot mic footage of a profanity-laced exchange between him and Daniel Cormier was leaked. The UFC turned the back-and-forth, which included Jones telling Cormier he would kill him, into a commercial for UFC 182. Jones said he was "offended" at first, but he has gotten over it.

"For that hot mic to come out and for people to see that side of me, it was kind of a relief," Jones said. "Because it's like, you know what? I am a Christian and I do try to carry my image in a certain light, because I think it's important for the people I inspire and for endorsements. But at the same time, this is who I am. I will swear. I will tell a guy who told me he would spit in my face that I would kill him. I would call him the names I called him."

With that said, Jones probably won't be pleased to hear White call him the "bad guy" publicly. The two have had a rocky relationship beginning two years ago when Jones declined to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice and UFC 151 was canceled. White buried Jones on a media call, calling his choice "disgusting and selfish."

"It's just the UFC," Jones said of the promotion using the leaked footage as an ad. "UFC 151 got cancelled and instantly my image got ruined overnight. That taught me a lot, it really did, about the UFC. So, them using that to promote fights, it doesn't surprise me. I'm just gonna go with it. It's what I said, it's my quotes and I'll live with it."