Malki Kawa gets that the UFC had to suspend Jon Jones. He accepts it. But stripping his client of the light heavyweight title he earned and defended eight times? Kawa isn't a fan of the UFC's decision there.
Jones, the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, had his belt taken away last week, a day after he was arrested on a felony hit-and-run charge in Albuquerque, N.M. Jones, 27, was suspended indefinitely and yanked out of his UFC 187 main event against Anthony Johnson.
Johnson will now meet Daniel Cormier for the vacant title on May 23 in Las Vegas.
"Jon Jones won that belt inside the Octagon," Kawa told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "Nobody beat him for the belt. That's just one case in itself. But on the other hand, we're jumping to a lot of conclusions. We haven't let things play out. He hasn't had his day in court and I don't think it's OK to just hand punishments down like that. But I do definitely understand where the UFC, sponsors and everyone is coming from. I can totally understand."
Jones also lost his Reebok sponsorship and MuscleTech reportedly dropped him as well. The former champion is out on continued bond after posting $2,500 the night of April 27. Jones will now wait and see if the district attorney decides to bring the case to a grand jury.
Jones allegedly ran a red light in a rental vehicle and struck another car being driven by a pregnant woman April 26. The 30-year-old female broke her arm in the collision. The official charge is leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury. If convicted, Jones could face up to three years in jail.
However, a lot still has to happen for Jones to even be indicted. He won't even give a plea unless that occurs. The DA has 60 days to bring the case to a grand jury.
"I think we totally accepted the suspension," Kawa said. "I thought they had to do it. I agreed when they handed it down. I just don't know that indefinite was the right thing to do, per se. And I definitely just don't agree with the belt being stripped, because if this gets resolved in the next 60 to 90 days, then what? Now you're saying, 'Well, now you're reinstated.' Then what? To me, I just felt like it shouldn't have been to that degree. But again, I'm coming from a more biased place than maybe everyone else is coming from."
Kawa said Jones is focusing on himself right now and those around him are also dealing with tough times. The manager, who has been with Jones for six years, is being criticized himself for being an enabler or yes man -- so much so that his daughter has come home from school asking him about it, he said.
"If you think I'm there saying, 'Let's go,' then you guys are crazy," Kawa said. "It doesn't make any sense whatsoever. He's the boss. He tells us what to do and what not to do. But we're all men and we all have our own opinions and we voice them and we put them out there. I just think that a lot of people have a lot of things wrong."
Kawa said he isn't even certain Jones will come back to MMA -- he's 50-50, right now. Even Cormier, Jones' hated rival, winning the belt won't necessarily motivate "Bones" to return, the manager said.
Jones beat Cormier at UFC 182 in January in a five-round unanimous decision. It was clear who the better fighter was at that point.
"If you're Daniel Cormier and you win this belt, right, and you go parading around the world and you're this and you're that, do you think anyone on the face of this Earth can actually take you serious?" Kawa said. "It would be such a joke at that point."
Which is another reason why he doesn't think Jones should have been stripped in the first place.
"I was very surprised," Kawa said. "I didn't think they were gonna do that. I don't think they should have done that."