Jon Jones will defend the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Thiago Santos at UFC 239 in Las Vegas on July 6, but the trash-talking is already well underway.
On Friday, Santos spoke with Brazilian TV station Combate (via Lucas Rezende of Bloody Elbow) about Jones' past and whether it has any impact on him ahead of the title fight.
"I'm not bothered by [the controversy around Jones]," he said. "It's karma. He'll have to live with it. He will be remembered as a roider, a guy who drives while drunk. That's his business. I have to be remembered for not doing those things.
"It's his life. If that's how he wants to live his life, that's his problem. It doesn't bother me. It's like I said, you can't argue about his talent inside the Octagon, but outside of it, unfortunately he's not a good role model. That's what I think."
Jones responded to the comments on Twitter on Friday:
The 31-year-old New York native is one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history, but he's also been stripped of the light heavyweight title three times because of failed drug tests and a hit-and-run arrest.
Santos told Combate he's more concerted about Jones doing something to get their fight cancelled rather than the champion's in-ring ability.
"The thing I fear the most is him stirring up some s--t before the event and the fight falls through," he said. "That's my biggest fear, him messing up and the fight doesn't happen. What we want is this fight. This picogram keeps coming up and nothing happens. Am I going to go against the grain? I'll fight him and beat him."
Santos (21-6 with 15 knockouts) is a massive underdog ahead of the July clash, though. Jones (24-1 with 10 knockouts and one no contest) is listed as a -750 favorite (bet $750 to win $100), while his Brazilian challenger is +400, per Vegas Insider.
Jones' only MMA loss came via disqualification against Matt Hamill in December 2009.
He's earned victories over Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Smith since returning to the UFC in December 2018 after serving a 15-month suspension.