We’re two weeks away from the one year anniversary of Jon Jones and his relationship with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) turning completely sour. On May 31, 2020, a frustrated Jon Jones publicly declared he was giving up his Light Heavyweight title and riding off into the sunset until UFC paid him more fairly for his fights.
This has not happened, and thus the consensus G.O.A.T. in mixed martial arts (MMA) remains on the sidelines, bulking and training for a Heavyweight run that may never happen.
Dana White has sat down in front of reporters and fielded questions regarding the Jones situation many times. Sometimes he sounds slightly positive about the chances of Jones returning. Other times he does not. After UFC 262, White sounded completely disinterested in discussing the issue because as far as he sees it, Jones doesn’t really want to fight.
“That’s up to Jon Jones, whether he wants to fight or not,” White said when the monthly Jones update question was asked. “There are fights available, they’re here. I’m going to keep making fights every weekend, doing fights. If Jon Jones wants to fight he can. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t have to. Nobody is going to force Jon Jones to fight.”
Of course, we all know that Jones does want to fight. Just for more money than his current contract is for. And at this point White sounds unwilling to budge one inch ... he even suggested Jones may never fight again.
“He’s had a great run, an incredible legacy,” White said. “I personally see him as the G.O.A.T. You’ve got some guys nipping at his heels like Usman and some other guys out there. It’s up to him. He can fight this summer or he can never fight again, it’s up to him.”
Jones got rid of a lot of his leverage when he dropped the 205-pound title, and continues to handle his side of the PR battle horribly. Bouts of quickly deleted tweets are no way to push a consistent narrative or message, which may be why White has been able to swat away criticism of UFC torpedoing a Jones vs. Ngannou “super” fight so easily.
Who knows, maybe this hardball from White is a sign that negotiations are heating up behind the scenes. Or perhaps both sides haven’t talked to each other in weeks, which has shockingly been the case in the past, like when Jones started announcing his plans to move to heavyweight. Honestly, the situation between UFC and Jones looks about as bad as it did a year ago.
And it’s not getting better any time soon.
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