Recently, Jon Jones and his agents at First Round Management announced they were parting ways after 11 years together. With Jones currently banging his head up against a brick wall trying to set up a big money “super” fight against Francis Ngannou, it led many to hope that maybe this change could signal a positive development in negotiations.
Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.
Until Jones reveals who is replacing the Kawa brothers, there’s not going to be much difference because, according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, it was Jones who was handling his own fight negotiations already.
“Jon Jones and Malki Kawa haven’t talked for at least three or so years, maybe more,” Helwani said on his ESPN DC & Helwani show. “They just went their separate ways. As a result, Jon was working with Abraham Kawa, but it was more on the sort of marketing side, sponsorship side. Abe was not negotiating on his behalf. Jones was doing that negotiation.
“So now is there a possibility that Jones is like, ‘Okay I need new management, and as a result of that I need to part ways with these guys?’ It seemed like it was inevitable. So is he going to pick another manager, maybe a manager that is in good standing with the UFC and perhaps that will help revive the fight.”
The implication from DC & Helwani is that manager Ali Abdelaziz of Dominance MMA could be that guy in good standing with UFC brass. Abdelaziz manages Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin Gaethje, Kamaru Usman, Frankie Edgar, Cody Garbrandt, Gilbert Burns and Khamzat Chimaev, among many others. There definitely seems to be less brutal hardball tactics in play, especially when it comes to title shots, if Ali is there to smooth things over.
Then again, Ali also represented Henry Cejudo and didn’t manage to make a deal there, so he’s not a miracle worker.
For some reason, we’re doubtful Jones will go the Abdelaziz route. If we were to put money on a direction, we expect him to come out with some big name sports agent ... you know, the kind with enough name recognition and clout to get on SportsCenter and argue Jones deserves the big bucks.
Is it really $30 million, like Dana White claims? Honestly, if Jones was a free agent right now he’d make that easy. But, we don’t see UFC releasing him from his contract ever, so why even speculate. If this turns into a media pissing war over pay, the fight will never happen. So yeah, maybe the Ali Abdelaziz way — however the hell it works — is the way if we actually want Jones vs. Ngannou.