Jon Jones is deadly serious about sitting out until the UFC pays him what he believes he’s worth.
The UFC’s light heavyweight champion has engaged in a very public war of words with promotion president Dana White over the past few weeks after he attempted to negotiate a move up to heavyweight for a showdown against Francis Ngannou. When talks broke down almost immediately, Jones aired his grievances on social media, which set off a back-and-forth exchange with White over the money he’s being paid and the value he brings to the UFC.
While the UFC president routinely calls Jones “the GOAT,” he has scoffed at the financial demands made by the longest reigning champion in the history of the 205-pound division.
At this point, Jones is still more than willing to sit back down at the negotiating table, but he said the UFC will have to come with a better offer – or he won’t be back in the octagon any time soon.
“I got nothing to lose being the position I’m in right now,” Jones said when speaking on the “Wild Ride!” podcast hosted by Steve-O. “No, I don’t want to fight soon. I have no interest in fighting in the UFC until I get paid what I believe I’m worth. A lot of fans will continue to watch the UFC and support the UFC and I have no problem with that. I just ordered the last pay-per-view myself.
“But I think it’s really powerful when you stand up for what you believe is right. I think that eventually the UFC will realize that they’re being stubborn. They’ll realize they do have a special athlete in myself. I think they’ll eventually meet me halfway.”
Part of White’s criticism when it came to Jones’ financial demands was claiming that he asked for money comparable to boxer Deontay Wilder, who reportedly made around $30 million for his most recent fight.
Jones denied that he ever asked for that much money to fight again and he refutes claims that he’s trying to gouge the UFC for more than what he’s worth to them.
“I’m not asking for anything outrageous,” Jones said. “I know we’re in a pandemic and I know when you’re a multi-millionaire and you’re asking for more it makes you seem like this greedy person and all this type of things. I’m very aware of all this. But I’m also very aware that I have the voice and the platform to make change.
“Most of the guys who are doing the absolute worst [financially] are not in a position that they could say publicly, ‘I have a second job, I’m borrowing money from my parents.’ I know so many fighters that are living in the Jackson’s MMA gym because they can’t afford to have their own apartment and they’re UFC fighters. This is sad.”
Jones believes he’s in a position where he can help make real fundamental changes to the way fighters are paid. If that means he has to sit out for a few years in the prime of his career, then so be it.
“If I have to have a bad relationship with Dana, sit out for two years, three years, to bring light to what’s happening, then these are the things people remember you for more than winning belts,” he said.
As far as his relationship with the UFC president goes, Jones genuinely believes that White just isn’t a fan of him personally, and perhaps that plays a part in their contentious relationship in public.
Unfortunately, Jones feels like that has also ultimately impacted his overall career with the UFC.
“I just wish my relationship with Dana wasn’t the way that it is,” Jones said. “It’s like I get that you want to make these hundreds of millions of dollars off me, but if you don’t like me anymore, you flat out don’t like me. You could easily say what you want to say, but I don’t feel like he actually likes me. I’ve never had whiskey night and dinners and sh*t like that. I don’t think I’m his favorite person.
“I think it’s really clear when you watch one of his interviews when I come up and my point is if that’s what it is, if this has gotten to a place of being personal, then I would just much rather work for a company where I felt like I went home. I’m home when I go to work. I do have great relationships with the UFC staff. It’s just a weird feeling when you feel like they don’t want you there.”
In the end, Jones still sounds hopeful that a deal will be struck that will leave both sides happy and he can just return to work.
Otherwise, he probably won’t have any other option but to sit and wait.
“That’s the most messed up thing about my situation currently,” he explained. “In any other profession, if you’re unhappy with the way you’re being treated or the way you’re being paid or whatever, you can just take your sh*t and leave and go to the next boss and see if they value you more.
“In my situation, I would be forced to retire from fighting completely unless I wanted to coach or run a gym. My hands are tied.”