Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones settled his contract dispute with the ZUFFA-owned mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion and signed on the dotted line to rematch Alexander Gustafsson, a fight which is expected to go down at UFC 178 on Sept. 27, 2014.
Jones was the recipient of negative criticism from the MMA community for taking his time signing on for the rematch, getting hit with "ducking" accusations time and time again. Something he says UFC encouraged by announcing a date (Aug. 30, 2014) for the rematch without him not even knowing about it or agreeing to it.
A "strong arm, unprofessional, bullying" tactic used on UFC's side to get fans riled up for the rematch and get him to sign on the dotted line, according to Jones.
But as "Bones" reveals, it was never about not wanting to fight "The Mauler" again in favor of Daniel Cormier, as the root of it all stems from wanting a new contract. As Jones put it, if he was going to take part in what is supposed to be the biggest fight of the year against Gustafsson, then he wanted to be taken care of accordingly, financially speaking.
He broke it down on a recent appearance on The MMA Hour:
"Originally I just saw it a a strong arm technique on their part. I thought it was very unprofessional and kind of a bully technique, a negotiation bully style, I don't know what it was. But it is what it is. I think the fans are smart, the smart ones see when things like that happen and they realize what's going on. Yeah it looked like they were trying to do that (make it seem like he was ducking Gus). It was annoying, but I just needed to weather that storm and let everyone call me a chicken for a few weeks until I actually got there to negotiate the contract to take the fight in a professional manner, face-to-face."
"My whole thing was that I had just beaten Gustafsson and I didn't really feel as if I needed to rematch him. A lot of people wanted to see it, yes, but at the same time I think it's important to be somewhat selfish when it comes to your career and your livelihood and the way you feed your family. Basically I didn't care who I fought, I wanted to be taken care of if I was going to be a part of what's supposedly the biggest fight of the year and one of the most anticipated fights in the history of the sport. I wanted to make sure I would be taken care of that way, any smart athlete would. That's what I was waiting for, basically. The way it looked was as if I didn't want to fight him. But really I just needed to get in a meeting to negotiate the numbers of such a big fight."
Jones said as far as location of the fight, though it's still up in the air, there is no chance it will be in Sweden, citing the fact that he is the champion and there is no reason why Gustafsson should enjoy the comforts of his own backyard.
"It won't be Sweden, no chance. I have no reason to. I'm the champ and he's the challenger, I don't find it appropriate for me to go to his backyard."
For now, Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Las Vegas are the frontrunners to host the mega-rematch. Two locations Jones has no issues with.
Jon went on to talk about his much-talked about and often-criticized decisions to remove his Instagram posts shortly after posting them. "Bones" says it's all for grins and giggles.
"I just find it funny. I understand that doing certain things get certain reactions and I just find it funny, I really do. It's funny that people get mad when I take things down."
Hahaha! The jokes on you!
As far as turning heel, Jones says that's just what some people want to see because they have trouble categorizing him, seeing as how he is an original character. One that's maturing and getting more and more comfortable in his own skin.
The 205-pound champion also went on to say that his relationship with the UFC higher ups is now healthier than ever after their three-hour long face-to-face meeting; saying that they now have a better line of honest communication.
And though he refused to go into details of his new deal, neither denying nor confirming he's the highest paid athlete on the roster, it's a safe bet to assume he is, considering he's one of the, if not the top draw in the game today.
Plus, UFC has more coin to throw Jon's way, considering they don't have to pay this guy anymore.