Jon Jones once again finds himself in limbo as he works out finances with UFC for a proposed heavyweight title fight with newly crowned champion Francis Ngannou.
Jones, who is widely considered the greatest fighter in the history of the sport, ran into a similar issue with the promotion last year when the heavyweight matchup first came to the surface. However, Ngannou is now champion and Jones is officially a member of the UFC’s heavyweight division. It makes more sense than ever to book the massive fight right now, but UFC is already playing hard ball.
Earlier this week, Jones shared his frustrations with UFC and publicly demanded his release. Jones is trying to lock down a bigger payday to challenge Ngannou because it’s the most dangerous fight he’s ever going to take in his career. Ngannou is a massive heavyweight and he’s coming off a blistering knockout win over the consensus greatest heavyweight champion of all time, Stipe Miocic, at UFC 260 last month (highlights HERE).
It is unknown exactly how much money Jones needs to sign on the dotted line, but he’s going to take his time to establish his worth for a company he helped build. In fact, Jones is willing to drag his relationship with UFC and Dana White through the mud to blaze a trail for young fighters on the rise.
“I’m not asking for anything outrageous and 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 I’m aware of all of this,” Jones said on “Steve-O’s Wild Ride!” podcast. “But I’m also aware that I have the voice and the platform to make change. Most of the guys who are doing the absolute worst are not in the position where they can say publicly, ‘I have a second job, I’m borrowing money from my parents.’ I know so many guys that are living in the Jackson’s MMA gym because they can’t afford to live in their own apartment, and they’re UFC fighters. So this is sad.
“If I have to have a bad relationship with Dana (White), 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. To stand up for the younger fighters.”
Although Jones is confident that UFC will eventually come around to book the Ngannou fight the all-time great is ready to jump ship if it comes down to it. Unfortunately, Jones is under contract and unable to test his value in another promotion at this point in time. It has left the former UFC champion in a state of limbo.
“That’s the main problem about my situation currently,” Jones said. “In any other professional, 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 own a gym. My hands are tied.
“I do believe wholeheartedly that the companies that own Bellator and these other leagues do have the same financial backing as the UFC had. And I do believe having Jon Jones be the new face of your promotion, especially today when I’m really making an effort for the first time to get my sh*t somewhat together. … I do think right now is a good time for any company to have me and my goal is to be an asset to any company that I’m a part of. And I’ve got a feeling that if I were able to get out of my UFC contract, I would be huge for another company. I just wish my relationship with Dana wasn’t what it is. I get that you’ve got to make these hundreds of millions of dollars off me, but if you don’t like me anymore, if you flat out don’t like me. 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 and I think it’s very clear when you watch one of his interviews come up.
“My point is: If that’s what it is and it has got to a point of being personal, then I would much just rather work for a company where I felt like I’m home when I go to work. I do have a great relationship with the UFC staff, it’s just a weird thing when you feel like they don’t want you there.”
Jones, who has been investing his time and training to bulk up to the heavyweight level, is ready to make his debut against Ngannou later this year. It would arguably be the biggest test of his career and a fight that could launch Ngannou from heavyweight champion to UFC superstar. With all of that in play it seems like UFC will eventually cave and meet Jones somewhere in the middle.
“The UFC will go on whether I fight or not,” Jones said. “I’ve got nothing to lose being in the position that I’m in right now. 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. … I think it’s really powerful to stand up for what you believe is right, and I think eventually the UFC will realize that they’re being stubborn, they’ll realize that they do have a special athlete in myself and I think they’ll eventually meet me half way.”