UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been one of the most high profile fighters in history to challenge the UFC on its practices when paying fighters. That's not to say that he is necessarily trying to force a top-to-bottom change, but he is preparing for a lengthy contract battle that could see him on the sidelines for up to two to three years, according to him.
“I don’t want to fight soon,” Jones said during a recent interview with former Jackass star Steve-O. “I have no interest in fighting in the UFC until I get paid what I believe I’m worth.”
“I’m not asking for anything outrageous, and I know we’re in a pandemic, and I know when you’re a multimillionaire and you’re asking for more, it makes you seem like this greedy person,” Jones continued. “I’m very aware of all of this, but I’m also very 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 that they can say publicly, 'I have a second job; I’m borrowing money from my parents.' I know so many fighters who are living in the (Jackson Wink) MMA gym because they can’t afford to have their own apartment, and they are UFC fighters. So this is sad.
“And if I have to have a bad relationship with Dana, 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. I stood for the younger fighters.”
While some lesser paid fighter may be able to go fight for another promotion – like Bellator or ONE Championship – and make as much or more money than in the UFC, Jones doesn't likely have that option. Admittedly making millions of dollars per fight, there are few other promotions that could improve upon Jones's salary and keep their rosters in balance.
Jones understands this, believing his options are primarily to work out a deal with the UFC or retire.
"That's the most messed up thing about my situation currently. In any other profession, if you're unhappy with the way you're being treated or the way you're being paid or whatever, you can always take your s--t and leave and go to the next boss, 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."
Though he says he is prepared for an extended stint on the sidelines, Jones is optimistic that he will eventually work things out with the UFC.
"I think it is really powerful when you stand up for what you believe is right and I think that eventually the UFC will realize that they are being stubborn. I think they'll eventually meet me halfway."
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Jon Jones prepared for lengthy UFC holdout
(Video courtesy of Steve-O's Wild Ride! - Podcast)