UFC’s White says Jones ‘tarnished’ his own name

  • MMA columnist for ESPN.com
  • Analyst for “MMA Live”
  • Covered MMA for Las Vegas Sun

An ongoing war of words between UFC president Dana White and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones continued Saturday, with White stating that Jones has done “a very good job of tarnishing” his own name, without any help from the company he fights for.

The two have been at odds for more than a week, following an unsuccessful round of negotiations for a potential heavyweight fight between Jones and Francis Ngannou.

Jones has adamantly denied White’s assertion he asked for a specific amount of money. In one social media post Friday night, Jones went so far as to suggest the UFC release him entirely if his reputation causes the promotion to “undervalue me this much.”

“He can do whatever he wants,” White said during a UFC news conference Saturday. “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.

“In one of his tweets he said I tarnished his name. I tarnished you? You’ve done a very good job of tarnishing you.”

White was, presumably, referring to Jones’ checkered legal history. Jones has been arrested multiple times during his UFC career, on charges ranging from felony hit-and-run to DUI. He pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in his home state of New Mexico in March.

Jones, 32, revealed the negotiations via social media on May 21, claiming the UFC immediately informed him he wouldn’t make any additional money to move up a weight class. This past week, White told ESPN that Jones asked for an “absurd amount of money,” comparable to heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder’s recent purses.

“Don’t be a f—ing liar,” Jones wrote on Twitter on Friday. “My reputation has already taking enough hits. I don’t need this bulls— Dana. I never asked for [Deontay 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.”

White has repeatedly claimed Jones is the greatest MMA fighter of all time, while adding he believes Jones could have accomplished much more were it not for his issues outside of the cage.

On Saturday, White said he’s ready for Jones to defend his 205-pound title whenever he wants, but balked at Jones’ alleged financial demands.

“Being the greatest of all time doesn’t mean you get $30 million. It’s being able to sell,” White said, adding that the UFC walked Jones through the recent numbers on his fights. “[Jones] said, ‘I don’t give a f— what the numbers are. I want what I want.’ That’s not how life works.”

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