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Relationship with UFC mended, Jon Jones wants to be 'more of a company guy'

LOS ANGELES -- Jon Jones wants to keep his battling within the Octagon.

For years, Jones and the UFC have had a tenuous relationship, dating back to when Jones wouldn't fight a short-notice opponent at UFC 151 in 2012. The card had to be cancelled and UFC president Dana White went on a media conference call to essentially bury Jones and his coach Greg Jackson.

Jones said Tuesday at a UFC 200 media lunch, though, that his relationship with the UFC is mended and he wants to be more of a "company guy" in the future.

"We're in a pretty good spot right now," Jones said. "I'm ready to play the game. Obviously, I'll always be a guy to try to stand up for what I think is right. I have no problem standing up to the UFC when it comes to anything that I feel is not right, speaking my mind and going against the grain. But I think at this point in my career I'm ready to choose my battles more wisely and not bicker about the small things. Before I used to disagree with doing certain media and all this type of stuff. These days I'm really trying to do better at choosing my battles wisely."

Jones mentioned as recently as last year that the UFC 151 situation -- and others -- still bothered him. In 2012, Jones fought Vitor Belfort just weeks after the UFC found out Belfort had elevated testosterone levels in a drug test. The UFC let Belfort fight and never disciplined him. The revelation didn't come out until Deadspin reported it last year.

Belfort was a known user of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which was legal with a medical exemption at the time, but later banned outright by athletic commissions and the UFC.

"Vitor Belfort was on steroids when I fought him," Jones said in an interview with MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani back in November. "The UFC was very well aware way before the fight. They did nothing to penalize him. They let the fight go on knowing that I was fighting a guy on steroids, which is a hazard to my life."

UFC senior vice president of public relations Dave Sholler said after the report came out that the UFC did not take part in a coverup.

"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."

Jones, 28, seems to have moved on from that. He'll look to recover his light heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas. Jones has never been defeated inside the Octagon with his only loss coming via controversial disqualification in 2009. Cormier won the vacant light heavyweight title after Jones was stripped of the belt following a felony hit-and-run arrest in April 2015.

"My goal right now is to be more active and be more of a company guy, so I just fought in April, I'm fighting in July and I'm planning to win this fight and fight at Madison Square Garden in November," Jones said. "Just try to get right back into training camp after every fight and fight a hell of lot more often -- three to four times a year."

Jones (22-1) has to deal with Cormier, whose only career loss came to Jones in January 2015, next week and, if he wins, likely a fight with Anthony Johnson or Glover Teixeira. Those two top contenders faceoff at UFC 202 in August. So that whole fighting as often as possible thing will be difficult considering the competition level.

"I'm saying it now and it's probably going to be ... easier said than done," said Jones, who is now living a clean, sober life. "But my goal is to do that. I believe I'm the guy to do it, especially with this new outlook on life and treating myself better and spending more time in the gym. Hopefully that's what I'll be doing. It'll make the UFC happy and the fans happy."

And perhaps make for a happier Jones, too.

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