UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones may have been critical of the match-ups that contenders to his belt have received on their rise to a title shot, but UFC president Dana White is making no apologies. In fact, he leveled a little criticism of his own at Jones.
“Jon, I love ya, (but) you're not a matchmaker,” said White on Saturday night when confronted with Jones’ criticism of the recent matchmaking for Alexander Gustafsson. “Fight your fight, he'll fight his fight, and don't worry about it.”
“It makes it sound like you're worried about it. When you talk like that, it makes it sound like you're worried about it.”
Jones and Gustafsson fought an epic battle at UFC 165 in Toronto in September, leaving many calling for an immediate rematch. White was among those that want to see the two fight again, but the decision was made for Jones to first fight Glover Teixeira and for Gustafsson to fight Rogerio Nogueira.
Jones was critical of Gustafsson vs. Nogueira, believing the UFC was giving the Swede an easy ride to a rematch.
Nogueira, however, is suffering from a recurring back injury and won’t be able to fight. So now the UFC has replace the Brazilian with undefeated 205-pounder Jimi Manuwa, who wasn’t ranked as high as Nogueira.
White made no apologies for the substitution.
“Manuwa is undefeated, knocks people out, nasty striker. They'll both stand up and bang,” he said of the Brit facing Gustafsson. “Both these guys are strikers, I think it's gonna be a stand-up war.”
While many have been critical of Manuwa being put in a position to be a fight or two away from a title shot, White pointed out that there are always critics, many of them ducking back in the shadows after having been very vocal about Gustafsson before his impressive performance against Jones.
“This happens all the time. The same (expletive) thing people said about Gustafsson,” said the brash UFC president, shrugging off the critics. “’Oh, Gustafsson is gonna fight Jon Jones. Jon Jones is gonna kill him.’ … Okay.”
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa is scheduled for March 8 at the O2 Arena in London. Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira has been agreed to, but the UFC has yet to name a date or location.
If Jones and Gustafsson both win, the two are then expected to rematch.