UFC's Dana White Says Jon Jones 'Could Have Been' the LeBron James of MMA

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 27: Jon Jones (L) holds up the belt as he poses for the media with UFC President Dana White and opponent Alexander Gustafsson of Sweden looking on during the UFC 232 press conference on December 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Jon Jones' MMA career is far from over, but UFC President Dana White is already lamenting what the 32-year-old could've achieved.

Speaking with reporters on Saturday after UFC on ESPN 9, White reflected on Jones' journey to date and said he could've been a far bigger star than he already is, per MMA Junkie's Nolan King and John Morgan:

"I'm always looking at what Jon Jones could've been. He could have been the LeBron [James] of this sport. He could have been that big. The stuff that's he been through, to show up and think he basically [demanded] $15 million, or $20 million, or $30 million, it's crazy. He can do whatever he wants to do. He can sit out. He can fight. He can do whatever."

Jones' talent has never been in doubt. He has compiled a 26-1 record with one no-contest and is perhaps the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in UFC history.

However, the current light heavyweight champion has run into numerous issues away from the Octagon.

Jones received a 15-month suspension in September 2018 after testing positive for banned substances following his victory over Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 in July 2017. He could've received a suspension of up to four years because of his multiple past infractions.

Jones pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in May 2012 after being involved in a car accident. In September 2015, he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. In March, he was arrested again in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on suspicion of DWI and subsequently reached a plea deal.

Jones most recently fought at UFC 247 in February, winning a unanimous decision over Dominick Reyes. White indicated earlier this month that the UFC isn't planning on punishing him for his most recent arrest and that he's expected back inside the Octagon later this year.