Jon Jones Says He's Willing to Sit out 'Years' to Take a Stand on UFC Contracts

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2020

HOUSTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 08:  Jon Jones celebrates his victory over Dominick Reyes in their light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 247 event at Toyota Center on February 08, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Getty Images

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones said Thursday he's willing to relinquish his title and take an extended hiatus from the promotion as part of a contract dispute. 

Jones explained his stance on the Steve-O's Wild Ride! podcast (via ESPN) after failed negotiations to fight heavyweight Francis Ngannou.

"If I have to have a bad relationship with Dana, sit out for two years, three years, to bring light to what's happening, then these are the things people remember you for more than winning belts," he said. "I stood for the younger fighters."

Jones and welterweight Jorge Masvidal have recently expressed frustration about the limited revenue sharing with fighters and other financial concerns.

The 32-year-old New York native told Steve-O he understands the optics involved in fighting for money amid the coronavirus pandemic aren't ideal, but he still believes it's the right thing to do for the industry.

"I'm not asking for anything outrageous, and I know we're in a pandemic, and I know when you're a multimillionaire and you're asking for more, it makes you seem like this greedy person," Jones said. "I'm very aware of all of this, but I'm also very aware that I have the voice and the platform to make change."

Masvidal previously debated White's stance that UFC's fighters are independent contractors and suggested the promotion should release him so he could test his true open-market value:

Jorge Masvidal UFC @GamebredFighter

I’m not an independent contractor if I can’t go anywhere else to make a living. Let me go and let me see if I’m worth it @espn #supernecessary

Jones told Steve-O he's cognizant most MMA fighters don't have the bargaining power of himself and Masvidal, which puts the mid-card competitors in a position where it's difficult to speak out publicly and increases the need for the sport's biggest stars to take a stand.

"Most of the guys who are doing the absolute worst are not in the position that they can say publicly, 'I have a second job, I'm borrowing money from my parents,'" he said. "I know so many fighters who are living in the Jackson Wink MMA gym because they can't afford to have their own apartment, and they're UFC fighters. So this is sad."

Jones holds a 26-1 career record with 10 knockouts. He's held the light heavyweight belt since a December 2018 victory over Alexander Gustafsson.