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Editor’s note: This article was originally published on MMAJunkie.com.
According to Richard Schaefer, he was recently introduced to Jon Jones through a mutual friend. Schaefer already knew plenty about the former UFC light heavyweight champion and all of his accomplishments inside the octagon. This meeting, which lasted “for a few hours,” was about getting to know Jones on a personal level and how he could be of assistance.
“When I sat down with him, I was really impressed how articulate he was, how well he came across, just his thought process and everything,” Schaefer said Thursday in an “MMA Today” interview on Sirius XM. “I really felt this is the kind of guy I’d like to work with.”
And so it is that Schaefer, the former longtime CEO of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, was retained by Jones as his new advisor. The announcement was made Wednesday, one month after Jones parted ways with First Round Management, which represented him for 11 years.
It’s a significant move for Jones as he’s been embroiled in a contract dispute with the UFC – specifically on the topic of moving up a division for a superfight with heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. Schaefer said he’s agreed to a “multifight deal” with Jones, but nothing is bigger right now than the job in front of him.
“There’s this big fight out there, the fight against Francis Ngannou,” Schaefer said. “That’s the fight everybody wants to see. That’s what fight fans want to see – not just UFC fans, fight fans period – and that’s really my task, is to see if there’s a way to get that fight done and represent Jon Jones the legend against UFC, to see if we can get it done.”
Schaefer, a Swiss national with a banking background, ran Golden Boy from 2000-2015 before founding his own boxing promotional company, Ringstar Sports, in 2016. He’s helped make some of boxing’s biggest fights of the past 20 years, working with De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, among others.
In addition to Schaefer’s proven track record, it should help Jones that UFC president Dana White already gave a thumbs up on Jones teaming up with him.
“Dana and me have a great relationship. We respect each other. We’ve known each other for a long time. And I think you saw that yesterday with his comments, as well,” Schaefer said. “I respect him; he respects me. I know the pay-per-view business as good as probably anyone; so does he. It’s really a matter of finding some common ground, so we will be meeting soon to see if we can structure a deal that everybody can live with.”
For the past year, Jones’ frustration in dealing with the UFC himself has been clear as he’s publicly feuded with White about being underpaid. The tension ramped up after Ngannou claimed the UFC heavyweight from Stipe Miocic on March 27.
Jones, who hasn’t fought since a February 2020 win over Dominick Reyes, has been critical of White on social media ever since, with the UFC boss firing back in various interviews. That type of public negotiating is one thing Schaefer said he will not partake in.
“When you start negotiating fights in the media, and people are starting to dig in their heels and say, ‘Well, this is too much,’ and people who maybe even aren’t supposed to talk are throwing out crazy numbers, which didn’t even come from the athlete himself, and people are getting pissed off at each other, that’s not the way you get deals done,” Schaefer said. “These (big fights) don’t get done through the media and Twitter and Instagram and things like that. They get done by professionals sitting down at the table talking about the different revenue streams and negotiating a deal. … That’s really the problem, because otherwise things get out of hand.”
Schaefer said he already has a date set to meet with White and the UFC brass to discuss Jones’ contract – but he wouldn’t disclose when.
“That’s exactly what I just said. I’m gonna be meeting with them, we’re gonna sit down, and you’re not gonna hear from me a peep until such time when that peep is gonna be, ‘Guys, we have a fight,’” Schaefer said. “Anything in between, like tweeting or messaging or talking, is just counterproductive, and I’m not gonna get caught up in that. That is exactly why I delivered the biggest fights there were in the last 15, 20 years in boxing.”
Schaefer is up against the clock as White has indicated the UFC will move on with a heavyweight title rematch between Ngannou and Derrick Lewis. The date for that fight could be August 7, though nothing is official.
What makes Schaefer think he can be the one to ensure cooler heads prevail and Jones receives a deal to his liking to give fans the Ngannou-Jones superfight fans have been clamoring for?
“I think I understand the pay-per-view business better than most. I know the different revenue streams probably better than most. Because, again, I have done millions and millions and millions of pay-per-view buys, promoted some of the biggest pay-per-view events of all time, so I know what the different revenue sources are,” Schaefer said. “It’s a matter of sitting down and seeing if we can structure a deal, which everybody can live with. I don’t know the MMA managers. I don’t know who the other MMA managers are. And I frankly don’t care. I have one task, which is to deliver to Jon that fight, and I’m gonna do whatever I can to do that based on my experience, based on my great relationship with Dana, and see if we can turn out what I think can be the biggest UFC pay-per-view event of all time.”
He continued, “We’re gonna find out in the coming days and see what is done and what is not done. My philosophy going back into my boxing days: If you do have a mega-event (in front of you), I always try to get that mega-event done. Because if you allow for interim fights or other fights, you never know. A guy might lose, a guy might get injured. There just are so many question marks out there. My philosophy was always to deliver the biggest fights when they can get made.”