MANILA, Philippines – Reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones is eager to defend his belt against veteran fighter Dan "Hendo" Henderson, but hopes that the build-up to their fight will remain "classy."
Jones is coming off a dominant title defense against former champion Rashad Evans at UFC 145 in Atlanta, but he admitted that all the trash-talking between him and Evans prior to the fight made him weary.
"I've gone through a lot with Rashad as far as the trash talking, and I really hope that Dan's listening. I hope that Dan keeps it classy through this fight," Jones said in an ESPN interview.
"I respect him as an older man, I respect him as a warrior. I just hope he keeps it classy and not drag me into another trash-talking bout" he added.
Jones and Evans were former friends and sparring partners but had a bitter falling out, culminating in their UFC 145 fight. During numerous promotional appearances, the two fighters exchanged harsh words and insults.
The defending champion hopes that will not be the case against Henderson.
"Let's just stick to what we're gonna do and let's just fight," he said.
Jones said he has not reached out to Evans yet following their fight, but added that the other fighter was in his thoughts and prayers.
"I'm sure he's going through a lot right now... I won't reach out to him. Rashad’s an adult man, he understands the sport we play. He's tasted defeat before, and I'm sure it's tough for him as a person and a mixed martial artist," Jones said.
"He's definitely in my thoughts and my prayers and I wish him all the best," he added.
Jones has also shot down the possibility of moving up to the heavyweight division should he successfully defend his title against Henderson.
"I'm always looking for new challenges and ways to add to my game, but right now, there's so much work to do in the light heavyweight division," he said.
"There are so many guys in the UFC that I haven't fought yet, guys like Phil Davis, Alexander Gustaffson, Thiago Silva is back.. There's a lot of guys that I haven't fought yet," he added.