In a series of tweets, on May 31st, Jon Jones asks to be released from his UFC contract. It has been no secret that Jon Jones and the UFC have had a tumultuous relationship. However, it seems that their relationship has degraded even further. This degradation was even more visible after Dana White appeared in an interview. White claimed that Jon was demanding “Deontay Wilder” money, also stating that “Jon Jones could have been the LeBron of our sport.”
Dana White also brought up the fact that Jon Jones has “Done a very good job of tarnishing” himself. This is a fair criticism, as Jones is a very polarizing fighter. Jon Jones has had several scandals throughout his storied career. From committing a hit and run on a pregnant woman to his PED picogram debacle, to most recently being arrested for an aggravated DWI and negligent use of a firearm. Obviously, his actions outside of the cage has not positively amplified his career.
It may seem like a lifetime ago to many, but when Jones first landed on the scene, it was like lightening in a bottle. He smashed all challengers and beat the breaks of the likes of Shogun and Machida. It was simply incredible. Then just like that, one grievous error after another kept him on the sidelines during what was potentially his prime. It his hard not to pontificate on what could have been especially after watching “The Last Dance” documentary on Netflix.
Yet, and this is certainly a bi-product of my personal biases, I find myself siding a bit with Jones. In a post Covid world, it may be unreasonable to demand 30 million a fight from the UFC, however he is also most certainly underpaid. Dana White himself has called Jones the greatest ever, an opinion which Conor McGregor disagrees with. One would imagine the GOAT of MMA should garner more than a $500,00 Guaranteed Purse plus PPV points from the UFC. Now, Jones is not McGregor and he is not Deontay Wilder, but he is Jon Jones. Bones is a star, one of the company’s biggest draws, and arguably the best fighter on UFC’s roster. So, if the president of the UFC thinks the GOAT is worth a base of $500,000, what does that mean for the future of the rest of the roster. Very few fighters make it to the UFC and even fewer sustain a UFC career longer than 5 years. The hurt business is a high turnover industry with a very limited window for peak earning potential. Half a million is life changing money, however I believe the best if not one of the best fighters on the roster absolutely has earned more.
Now like many fans, it is difficult do not understand or agree with everything (or even a lot) of what Jones says. But in regards to his position on this issue, I do agree with him, vehemently. He has earned his right to financial compensation that is both representative and equitable to his value within the organization. Especially if he moved up to heavyweight to fight a killer in Francis Ngannou, this simply make sense. The problem is not with the ideology it is with the strategy. This predicament is reminiscent of the old adage sense does not always make cents. Dana White is the president of the UFC and he often remembers those who were considered to be “Company” men/women. Several of those who towed the line find them selves on broadcasts, podcasts and other platforms supported by Dana White and the UFC. Time will tell whether or not this twitter feud, and a potentially sitting out for a lengthy period moves the UFC or not.