Dana White is going another round with the “greatest of all-time.”
The UFC president escalated his feud with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones on Saturday, not so subtly referencing the 32-year-old’s criminal history, while declaring the MMA legend a mediocre box office draw. The public sparring between White and Jones was sparked by failed negotiations for a fight with No. 2 ranked heavyweight Francis Ngannou.
“In one of his tweets, he said I tarnished his name,” White said at a press conference. “I tarnished you? You’ve done a very good job of tarnishing you.”
Jones, whom White has repeatedly called the best fighter in the sport’s history, has been stripped of titles three times during his career. In 2012, Jones was arrested for DWI. In 2015, he was arrested after a hit-and-run. In 2017, he was slapped with a 15-month suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. This March, he pleaded guilty to a DWI charge.
Jones remained the UFC’s most dominant force, but unquestionably hurt his legacy and appeal. White told ESPN that Jones, who most recently fought in February, reportedly wants an “absurd amount of money” for his next bout, comparable to former heavyweight boxing champ Deontay Wilder.
“Being the greatest of all time doesn’t mean you get $30 million. It’s being able to sell,” said White. “[Jones] said, ‘I don’t give a f–k what the numbers are. I want what I want.’
“That’s not how life works.”
Jones (26-1) denied White’s claim, inviting the UFC president to free him from his contract.
“Don’t be a f–ling liar,” Jones tweeted. “My reputation has already taking enough hits. I don’t need this bulls— Dana. I never asked for [Wilder] numbers. And how about since [Wilder] is making $30 million, we settle for half of that. Since you said I’m the [greatest of all time] and everything.
“You’re talking all that big guy stuff about not caring, put your money where your mouth is and release me from that contract.”
Jones’ anger partially stems from not being given extra compensation to move up a weight class to fight Ngannou.
“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 wrote. “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.
“Hunter and I had a very respectful conversation, I love how you’re trying to paint this picture of me being some angry guy disrespectfully demanding money. And then bringing up my out of the cage affairs to justify under paying me by tens of millions for years.”
White seems willing to call Jones’ bluff.
“He can do whatever he wants,” White said. “He wants to sit out, fight, he can do whatever. He can say whatever he wants publicly. It’s his God-given right in America. He can say whatever he wants. When he’s ready to come back, he can.”