UFC president Dana White is hopeful the recent decision by UFC superstar Jon Jones to add boxing promoter Richard Schaefer to the mix ends with Jones fighting in the UFC again, but the UFC boss revealed to Yahoo’s Kevin Iole on Wednesday that he’s not so sure Jones actually wants to compete anymore. White even went so far as to say that Jones didn’t have the competitive fire of other stars like Brock Lesnar.
Iole asked White why the famed MMA promoter seemed to move heaven and earth in an attempt to make the failed Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko superfight happen in 2002 but isn’t doing the same thing for Jones vs. Ngannou in 2021. White revealed his way of thinking on the matter, and it involved making a comparison between Lesnar and Jones.
“You know, Jon Jones is a different animal. Listen, if I came to a deal with Brock Lesnar and Fedor [Emelianenko], at the time both these guys wanted to fight each other, they wanted to go out and compete…, that’s not Jon,” White said.
So White’s claim about Jones is that he doesn’t actually want to compete for UFC gold the way Lesnar did when he was the champ, and even apparently Emelianenko wanted to do, even though the latter never even signed with the UFC.
“Jon is just, you know, Jon is one of those guys who could have had blown this sport open. He could have had a Nike deal where he had shoes with Nike for the next 25, 30 years after he retired, and stuff like that,” White said.
So White said his approach to making the fight happen between Jones and UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was the right one.
“Listen, man, this is the way I look at Jon Jones. If he shows up, that’s awesome. If he doesn’t show up, he’s had a great run. He can go out on top, and that’s not a bad thing either,” White said.
Jones is one of the most decorated UFC champions in history, but White still seems to rate him less favorably in terms of being a competitor than the likes of former UFC heavyweight champ Lesnar and former PRIDE champ Emelianenko.
Jones has been with the UFC since 2008. He holds numerous UFC records and is considered by most pundits (even White) to be one of the best MMA fighters ever. But White claimed his relationship with Jones all these years taught him not to expect certain things from Jones.
“Yeah, but I’ve been doing the Jon Jones thing for like ten years, so I know how this thing works,” White said.
Lesnar went 5-3 with the UFC. Jones is 26-1.
Still, White at least remains hopeful Schaefer can help turn the tide at the negotiating table.
“He’s a guy that gets deals done, so we will see,” White said.
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Ngannnou’s Next Fight Revealed
Just don’t count on Ngannou fighting Jones next.
White told Iole that Ngannou’s reported rematch against Derrick Lewis would for sure be next and that it would likely happen sometime over the summer in Houston.
“Derrick Lewis is getting that fight,” White confirmed.
UFC 262 took place in Houston earlier this month, and White says the company is planning a quick turnaround to the largest city in Texas.
“Listen, we just had a great experience in Houston, I’ll probably take this fight back to Houston,” White said.
Lewis lives and trains in Houston and is easily the city’s most popular MMA fighter. Lewis defeated Ngannou by decision at UFC 226 in 2018, but Ngannou revamped his style after that on his way to becoming UFC heavyweight champion.
While Ngannou vs. Lewis 2 isn’t the superfight most fans expected, it will at least feature two of the hardest-hitting UFC stars in history.
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White Unsure About Future for Jones
But White warned about the idea of getting excited about Jones heading back to the Octagon. In fact, White said he believes Jones could be walking away from the sport soon.
“I don’t know. I get excited when I know Jon is really coming in and he’s going to fight, so I sort of set myself up for, if he doesn’t, he doesn’t,” White said.
White said he would accept whatever Jones decides to do.
“Jon Jones can go out on top… if he called tomorrow and said, ‘I retire”, I wouldn’t be shocked. I wouldn’t be devastated. I’d say good for him. And if Jon Jones calls tomorrow, and says ‘I want to fight tomorrow, I want Stipe’…awesome. Let’s make it, and let’s get it going,” White said.
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