Off a great UFC Fight Night last night on ESPN comes some surprising news that current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones has elected to vacate his title. This seems to stem from his discussions with Dana White and the UFC in regards to a possible bout against Francis Ngannou which Dana White stated that they would not pursue at the time in large part due to the sum of money Jones was asking to move up in weight for that fight. That number has not been explicitly stated but Dana White has made mention that it was in the range of 30 million dollars which is relatively comparable to what a big time star in boxing would make.
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. 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
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 31, 2020
Can the UFC pay Jones this amount of money for a one-off fight? Certainly. The deal they made with ESPN has increased their revenue stream by a substantial amount. Now the big issue especially currently with the state of affairs in the United States is that the UFC is not getting a live gate for any of their events. What does that mean exactly? The last live event the UFC held was UFC 248 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The live gate for that event was 2.7 million dollars. While that may not seem like a large sum of money, 2.7 million dollars pays almost all the fighter salaries on a card. You factor in the PPV buys, the merchandise sales, the increased exposure being on TV for the product and that number really starts to add up to where paying one fighter 30 million dollars for a bonafide superfight like Jon Jones against Francis Ngannou does not seem the worst idea in the world.
However, with the good comes the bad and the main issue for Dana White would be if the fighters see one guy getting 30 million a bout, why can’t they leverage their way for even half that? Fighter pay has been an issue for years, I’ve made it well known that I think they should be making more money than they do for the abuse they put their body through during a fight. Now that doesn’t mean that you pay every combatant 1 million dollars just to show and 1 million to win, because the company is not growing to the point where that is a feasible option, but you can certainly pay more than 10K to show and 10K to win. The other big concern is if you let Jon Jones move up, what’s stopping other fighters moving up for “superfights” and not defending their belts. We’ve seen it before with Conor where he defeats Jose Aldo to win the title and never defends it then beats Nate Diaz in a rematch and is given a title shot at lightweight which he wins and becomes a two-division champion. Did Conor ever defend that lightweight championship? Nope. He went ahead and boxed Floyd Mayweather where he was paid a guaranteed 30 million dollars.
I’m all for super fights and it can not be understated how thoroughly dominant Jon Jones was but especially given the current climate of the United States and the fact that he arguably lost his last title defense against Dominick Reyes, he will not be getting paid 30 million to fight Francis Ngannou. Now he’s attempting to play hard-ball by leaving the UFC and going to an organization where he believes he will be properly compensated for his work. I don’t think he’s kidding here and honestly I don’t really think Dana White minds either way.
#ESPN Reyes vs Jan For the UFC light heavyweight championship of the world. As of right now, I got nothing to really gain fighting either of them. Let me know if you guys want to set up a day in 2021 for that Izzy fight. Hopefully you guys will be willing to pay by then.
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 31, 2020
What do I think will happen? I personally believe Jon Jones will as he stated on Twitter vacate the belt and the UFC will make the fight Jon proposed which is Dominick Reyes vs Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight championship. Early next year, Dana will sit down with Jon and ask him what he wants and they’ll work out a contract that benefits both parties. This money can come from a multitude of avenues, the UFC currently has an apparel deal with Reebok that is going to be up by the end of the year and perhaps they move to Nike and double their earnings that way.They can also make a more concentrated effort to get more fights on ESPN which increases the amount of people watching the product which helps top to bottom for the organization. The more people watching the sport means the more money the sport is able to make. My point is if and when Dana White wants Jon Jones to fight again, he has all the capability to make it happen and I do see it happening early next year.