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Agent: Jon Jones' relationship with the UFC is 'professional,' but needs 'a lot of repair'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jon Jones spent a good portion of an interview last week with MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani talking about the UFC and how he has been treated by the promotion. For the most part, Jones was critical of executives in how they have handled certain situations.

The relationship between Jones and the UFC is not fractured, though, according to Jones' agent Malki Kawa.

"I think his relationship with the UFC is OK," Kawa told Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I think it's a professional, working relationship. I think there's a lot of repair that has to happen on both sides. There's just a lot of things that need to get aired out and talked about and I think that will happen."

Jones, the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, has had a difficult year. In January, his positive test for cocaine was mistakenly released by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Jones was arrested on a felony hit-and-run charge in April and was suspended and stripped of his light heavyweight title by the UFC two days later.

In the latter series of events, Jones was under the impression that if he told UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta that he was mentally ready to fight a month after the arrest that he would not have been suspended nor stripped. He also didn't think White and Fertitta flew to Albuquerque the day of his felony first appearance in April with his well-being in mind.

"No, not really," Jones said. "They had never came to see me before about anything. They never traveled to come say hi or have dinner. The first time they came to Albuquerque to visit me was to take my belt away.

"Honestly, Lorenzo did seem like he really cared. Lorenzo seemed very genuine. He looked me in the eyes the whole time and said, 'How are you doing?' At the time, I didn't know how I was feeling. I was all over the place emotionally. But at the end of the day, it was a business meeting still. It definitely wasn't one that went in my favor."

A UFC official told MMA Fighting earlier this week that Jones' claim that the UFC would have allowed him to fight if he wanted to was "100 percent inaccurate." The official said the decision to strip him of the belt was made before White and Fertitta flew to New Mexico, which they did to show Jones support and inform him of their decision to strip the title in person.

UFC executives also traveled to Albuquerque in October for Jones' plea hearing. Jones pleaded guilty and was given a conditional discharge. He must complete 18 months of probation and 72 appearances of community service and the felony will be wiped from his record.

The UFC official also said the promotion has stayed in close communication with Jones, his manager and his publicist throughout his legal process. Jones was reinstated by the UFC two weeks after the plea hearing following a third-party investigation.

Jones' issues with the UFC go back three years ago to when White blasted him and his team on a media conference call following the cancellation of UFC 151 in August 2012. Jones was supposed to fight Dan Henderson in the main event of the card, but Henderson pulled out due to injury eight days before the bout. The UFC asked Jones to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice and Jones refused. White said he was "disgusted" with Jones, called him selfish and referred to Jones' coach Greg Jackson as a "sport killer."

One month later, Jones successfully defended his title against Vitor Belfort in the main event of UFC 152Deadspin reported this past September that Belfort was found to have high levels of testosterone before that fight, the UFC knew about it and Belfort was still able to fight. Deadspin obtained e-mail evidence of Belfort's tests accidentally sent out by a UFC employee.

Jones, who was unaware of Belfort's results until the Deadspin report came out, told Helwani that he felt like the UFC allowing the bout to go on was a "hazard to my life" and "slap in the face."

UFC senior vice president of public relations Dave Sholler said in October that any suggestion that the UFC perpetrated some kind of cover-up was "categorically false." Belfort, at the time, was on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which was legal at the time for fighters with therapeutic use exemptions (TUE), but has since been banned. Belfort was granted a TUE by the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA) and the UFC, but never by an athletic commission in the United States.

"That period of time with TRT is one that was tricky for everyone: For the UFC, for athletic commissions, and for athletes alike," Sholler said. "I think when everyone came to a conclusion it didn't have a place in the sport and was outlawed in 2014, we were quick to make sure that we too followed suit, as Nevada has said."

White was asked on "Off The Record" on Thursday about the situation, gave somewhat of a denial (though unclear to what) and then turned it toward Jones.

"We didn't know that," White said. "Was Jon Jones in our offices? Listen, Jon Jones is somebody who shouldn't be talking about other people's tests and what they're doing."

Jones said he has not broached the Belfort subject the UFC brass yet, but he plans on it. In the meantime, Jones will likely get a chance to regain his belt against Daniel Cormier in the first half of 2016.

"I think that their relationship is fine," Kawa said of Jones and the UFC. "I think that Jon does what Jon has to do and the UFC is gonna do what the UFC has to do."