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Jon Jones expects ‘stubborn’ UFC, Dana White to meet demands, set up ‘scary’ Francis Ngannou fight

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Jon Jones doesn’t feel like he’s wanted in the UFC by Dana White. He would be happy to pack it up and go elsewhere if he was released from his contract, but still hopes to see a solution to set up a heavyweight title fight with Francis Ngannou.

Jones (26-1 MMA, 20-1 UFC) has been extremely vocal about his situation since this past Saturday when Ngannou knocked out Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 to claim the belt. He’s posted long streams of Twitter messages about his dispute, which essentially boils down to the former light heavyweight champion wanting a better contract to move up in weight.

He hasn’t waved from that position since announcing he would be changing weight classes this past summer, yet it doesn’t seem the UFC wants to meet his quota. Jones said this week that an off between $8 million and $10 million to fight Ngannou is “way too low,” and while he hasn’t revealed an exact asking price, “Bones” promises it’s nothing unreasonable.

“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.”

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Jones said he sees his situation as more complicated because one of the shot-callers on the other side of the negotiation table is not interested in being an ally, but rather an enemy. He’s displayed plenty of frustration about UFC president Dana White’s comments indicating he was trying to price himself out of a bout with Ngannou, because he may not truly want it to happen.

It’s not the first time Jones has felt belittled by the way in which White has talked about him in public, and it’s created a level of tension that makes Jones unhappy with his work environment. He thinks there could be a situation that exists for him outside the UFC that would be better for him, but doesn’t seem hopeful his request to be released from his contract will ever be met.

“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 isn’t the first fighter to have a public spat with the UFC brass over pay. He almost certainly won’t be the last, either. He said what makes his situation different, though, is that he’s not in a position where he has to fold under pressure.

As one of the UFC’s most successful fighters for more than a decade, Jones said he’s accumulated a level of wealth that can allow him to never fight again. That means he’s going to dig his heels in until he gets a deal he perceives as fair. And he predicts the UFC will eventually do him right.

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“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.”

Jones said one of the reasons he didn’t move to heavyweight earlier in his career is because the UFC would not pay him accordingly. He doesn’t think it’s fair for him to get the same rate to fight at 205 pounds – where he’d be favored over everyone – to heavyweight, where he’s already been instilled as a betting underdog against Ngannou.

The risk needs to be worth the reward, Jones said, and that comes with more pay on the front end of his contract for simply stepping in the octagon.

“I think I’m even more beatable as a heavyweight, and that’s why I went to Dana White looking for a raise,” Jones said. “Daniel Cormier got a raise when he went to heavyweight, I was looking for a raise to go heavyweight. Francis Ngannou is scary. There’s a big chance he could break my jaw. I’m OK with that. As a fighter I’ve whooped enough ass that if someone eventually gets me, then we all have our day. I’m OK with that. But that should come with an increase in pay. I think me at heavyweight, the pay-per-view numbers are going to go up inevitably, more people are going to watch.”

Despite that risk, Jones has the self-belief he would beat Ngannou. He said after putting together a UFC Hall of Fame career that has him in the argument for the best fighter ever, he’s ready to “risk it all” by fighting Ngannou and other heavyweights in order to add another layer to his legacy.

The idea Jones is afraid to fight Ngannou or the result of a potential fight is not something that resonates with Jones, he said. Jones has shown some of the greatest fight IQ of anyone in MMA history, and he knows what would happen in order to dethrone Ngannou if they ever shared the octagon.

“Francis Ngannou, it’s very simple: Get comfortable with the worst-case scenario,” Jones said. “Worst-case scenario is he knocks you the f*ck out, he possibly fractures a bone in your face. That’s the worst-case scenario. You get comfortable with that idea, it becomes easy. If he doesn’t knock you out and break your face (because) you’re smart, you’re fast, you have a chin, you have great head movement, you can wrestle.

“There’s a lot of ways things can play out. So I just think about the worst-case scenario and get yourself mentally to a place where you’re almost walking into that like, ‘OK, I’m getting ready to go out there and this guy could possibly hurt me tonight.’ Francis Ngannou’s dangerous, I believe that he has a chance to knock me the f*ck out, let’s say that out loud. But if I don’t get knocked out, I believe I win that fight. I just have to get though Round 1 and I win that fight.”

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