UFC superstar Jon Jones vacated his light heavyweight championship on Sunday because of a massive dispute with UFC president Dana White, perhaps signaling the end of Jones’ time with the premier MMA promotion in the world.
Jones and White had continued their war of words over the weekend about some text messages that may or may not exist, and it eventually escalated to the point that many started to wonder whether the two men’s massively successful business relationship would soon be coming to an end.
But Jones put an end to that speculation on Sunday afternoon when the longtime UFC light heavyweight champion confirmed he was planning to vacate his 205-pound title over the matter.
Additionally, Jones revealed he wouldn’t come back to the fight in the UFC again until maybe 2021 and that was only if the company was “willing to pay by then” for him to do it.
So Jones’s UFC career might suddenly and shockingly be over.
White’s Latest Comments Seemed to Be Tipping Point
Claiming White had lied to the media about recent negotiations for a superfight, specifically over the amount of money White claims Jones asked for via text messages, Jones asked to be released from his UFC contract on Friday.
On Saturday White was asked by reporters about that demand at the post-fight press conference for UFC Las Vegas, and White didn’t do anything to throw cold water on the matter.
Instead, the UFC boss seemed to throw more gasoline onto an already combustible situation by going all-in on the idea that Jones might be headed out the UFC’s door.
“In one of his tweets, he said I tarnished his name,” White said. “I tarnished you? You’ve done a very good job of tarnishing you.”
Jones didn’t like that angle, so again the 205-pound champ asked to be released from his contract on early Sunday morning.
“Put your money where your mouth is and release me from that contract,” Jones replied via Twitter.
Jones Didn’t Like White Alluding to Fighter’s Issues Outside the UFC
White’s comments seemed to allude to Jones’ various legal issues and failed drug tests.
“He could have been the Lebron [James] of this sport,” White said. “He could have been big.”
Jones wasn’t too keen on White taking that angle.
“I love how you’re trying to paint this picture of me being some angry guy disrespectfully demanding money,” Jones tweeted. “And then bringing up my out of the cage affairs to justify under paying me by tens of millions for years.”
Still, White told reporters Jones could do whatever he wanted and that he would leave it to Jones to decide whether the 32-year-old would fight again in the UFC.
“He can do whatever he wants,” White said. “He wants to sit out, fight, he can do whatever.”
But that didn’t seem to make things any better. By Sunday afternoon, Jones had doubled down on his demands to be released by announcing that he was vacating his title belt.
Jones: ‘No One Needs to Put up With Dana’s Lies’
After vacating his title, Jones suggested he didn’t need to continue his UFC career.
In fact, the longtime pound-for-pound king of MMA said he might be better off going in another direction.
“I’d probably make more in my first boxing match than my next three UFC fights combined,” Jones tweeted. “There’s real estate, acting, just kicking it and being a dad. No one needs to put up with Dana‘s lies.”
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Jones Claims White Lied About Text Messages
The primary lie Jones accused White of telling the press last week was that the fighter asked for an “absurd” amount of money to move up to heavyweight to face Francis Ngannou in a proposed superfight.
White told the media that the UFC’s lawyer possessed text messages from Jones that proved the fighter wanted $30 million to face Ngannou, arguably the hardest-hitting heavyweight in MMA history.
Jones immediately called that “bulls–t”, demanded White release those text messages to the media, and several days later said the reason White didn’t release them was that those text messages didn’t exist.
White Refused to Share Text Messages With Media
Jones also pointed out the strange way White acted when asked by reporters over the weekend to share the text messages in question after the latest UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas.
Finally, Jones blasted White and the UFC over the company’s current pay structure.
“At no point did I ever demand anything from you Dana, I simply asked for a Super fight and asked to be compensated for it,” Jones tweeted. “You are the one who started talking negotiations publicly and showing the world how much you’ve been withholding from your athletes this whole time.”
Indeed, four of the top five highest-paid fighters in the world today per Forbes are professional boxers with only Conor McGregor making the list for the UFC.
To make matters worse, McGregor wasn’t even the highest-paid fighter on the list as many might expect.
That honor when to boxing champion Tyson Fury.
Is Jones Leaving UFC for Good?
So Jones might truly be headed out the UFC’s door forever.
While Jones said he could potentially be lured back in 2021, now that the wheels are in motion for his departure it seems likely he might never compete for the company again.
Minimally, it’s a real possibility.
If that’s the case, the UFC just lost one of its biggest and best current stars, as well as the fighter White already admitted last week was the best UFC fighter ever, and all for what seems like a completely avoidable reason.
Either those text messages of Jones’ demands exist or they don’t. It shouldn’t have been that hard to prove either way. Heck, it probably shouldn’t have even mattered.
The UFC was better with Jon Jones in it. Why not just sort things out behind closed doors?
That would have been better for everyone involved: Jones. White. Fans. Everyone.
But now their differences might be irreconcilable.
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