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Chael Sonnen: UFC is already punishing Jon Jones just by keeping him under contract

UFC 159 Media Day Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

You can always count on Chael Sonnen to provide a unique perspective when it comes to combat sports news, and he’s had no shortage of opinions when it comes to former opponent Jon Jones’ latest troubling brush with the law.

Jones was arrested in Las Vegas the morning after his UFC Hall of Fame induction on charges of misdemeanor battery, domestic violence and injuring or tampering with a vehicle. Details coming out of the police report include a bloodied up fiance and a dented up cop car. It’s a whole new level of disturbing for Jones, whose past arrests weren’t exactly minor affairs either.

So the question raised is: What do you do with Jon Jones, if you’re the UFC? Do you fire the troubled GOAT contender? According to Chael Sonnen, you absolutely do not. Not yet, anyway.

“If you want Jon Jones cut my next question is, why?” he asked in a recent YouTube video. “That answer would be obvious, to hurt him. To punish him, right? If you want to hurt him and/or punish him, are you sure that you want him cut? If you release a guy, you have no control over that guy. And you can attempt to guess what the market will bear. But if you still have him under contract, you will control that answer. And if you release Jon Jones with the spirit of hurting him in mind, you see where it starts to become a problem.”

“Since the night Jon fought Dominick Reyes, they haven’t handed him a paycheck,” Chael continued. “In all fairness, that’s a big punishment. You economically sanction somebody ... for goodness sake, world powers do that to each other. It is that effective, it is that damaging. So if the idea of releasing Jon is coming from a standpoint of ‘I want to punish him, I want to stick it to him...’”

Chael’s right: Jon Jones has been fishing for a UFC release for over a year now. Given the current situation where UFC brass seems unwilling to meaningfully negotiate with him for his next fight, a release would be a reward.

A release wasn’t going to happen back in May of 2020, and it’s not going to happen now. Jones has spent the last 12+ months preparing for a UFC heavyweight move that may not even happen. Dana White has regularly downplayed it, and has on more than one occasion questioned whether Jones would ever fight again. When Jones was in town for the UFC Hall of Fame induction, White said he saw no reason to sit down with “Bones.”

As Sonnen said: Jones was being economically sanctioned, hard. And international relations certainly didn’t improve with this latest incident.

“Remember what the release would do,” Chael said at the end of his video. “You think a release just means Jon never gets the pleasure of the experience of competing in the UFC again. Guys, he hasn’t competed in the UFC in a meaningful period of time. Has no active contract to do that. Doesn’t even have a license any more.”

“I think for you the fan, nothing would change. You don’t want to see Jon Jones? You haven’t seen Jon Jones. See what I’m saying? If somebody was to relinquish control of that contract, it would relinquish control of the situation you want dealt with.”

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