01 Jan Dana White to Jon Jones: ‘Being the greatest of all time doesn’t mean you get $30 million’
UFC President Dana White will not be releasing text messages from a conversation with Jon Jones about fighting Francis Ngannou.
Instead, White indicated he’s detaching from a rising drama with the UFC light heavyweight champion over compensation and gives “Bones” a choice: fight, or sit out.
If Jones chooses the former, though, he isn’t getting $30 million.
“The stuff that he’s been through, to show up and basically demand $20 million, or $30 million, it’s crazy,” White told reporters at the post-fight press conference for UFC on ESPN 9. “So he can do whatever he wants to do. He can sit out, he can fight. He can do whatever.
“You know how this works. You know how I am. Jon Jones can say whatever he wants to publicly, and when he’s ready to come back and fight, he can.”
Amid a growing war of words with his promoter, Jones, 32, has dared the UFC to release him from his contract if his “reputation causes you to undervalue me this much.” The pound-for-pound great indicated he wants $15 million – or what he said is half of a $30 million purse recently paid to boxer Deontay Wilder – if he undertakes a showdown with heavyweight knockout artist Francis Ngannou, a fight that’s widely considered one of the most intriguing matchups on the UFC’s competitive landscape these days.
Historically, White is not one to cave to demands in a public spat. And as his relationship has appeared to further sour with Jones, a champ whose troubles outside the cage have put the UFC in a tough position and with whom he’s repeatedly clashed, the promoter indicated he’s handed off the dispute to UFC Executive Vice President Hunter Campbell.
Jones has accused White of lying to the public about what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to money and has asked that text messages he sent about Ngannou be made public. White, though, said he doesn’t care what the champion claims about whether or not he’s being truthful.
“Who do you believe? It’s up to you guys,” White said. “The (expletive) would I lie for? What do I gain in lying about it? Why would I lie? Doesn’t matter.
“Obviously, he’s fired up right now, and he had a great talk yesterday with Hunter, my lawyer, who’s really close to Jon Jones and likes him, and they have a good relationship, and they had a good talk yesterday. But it is what it is. I really don’t care. I could care less, to be honest with you.”
White repeated an earlier assessment of Jones as a talented fighter who’d wasted his potential by getting into trouble over the years, saying he’d fallen short of becoming the MMA equivalent of NBA great Lebron James.
Jones, meanwhile, has said the entire confrontation has reminded him of White’s behavior surrounding UFC 151, when the pay-per-view event was canceled when he declined a short-notice headliner against Chael Sonnen.
“Jon Jones and I have always had this,” White said. “I’m always looking at what Jon Jones could have been.”
White didn’t dispute the idea that Jones is still the GOAT in his sport. But as to what that buys him at the negotiating table, he indicated “Bones” hadn’t lived up to his earning potential in becoming the kind of star that could command stratospheric paydays.
“Being the greatest of all time doesn’t mean you get $30 million,” White said. “Being able to sell…Jon Jones has done a lot of things to himself. In one of his tweets, he was saying that I tarnished [him] – I tarnished you? You’ve done a very good job of tarnishing you.
“Hunter told him, ‘You can come in here and walk through the numbers.’ He says, ‘I don’t give a f*ck what the numbers are. I want what I want, and that’s it.’ That’s not how life works. Why don’t you guys fly back and tell your boss, ‘I don’t give a f*ck what this company makes. This is what I want, and you’re going to give it to me.’ See how that works out for you.”