MANILA, Philippines – Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones insists there is nothing wrong with being a business-savvy athlete even as he faced criticism from mixed martial arts (MMA) fans.
Jones recently caused a stir in MMA circles when he said he does not want to face Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida in a rematch because it was his “lowest pay-per-view draw last year.”
“No one wants to see me fight Lyoto Machida. I don’t want to fight Lyoto again. Lyoto is a high risk and low reward fight... He’s a tough fighter, but no one wants to buy that fight,” he said in an ESPN interview.
Jones was criticized by fans in MMA websites, with some feeling that the fighter should not have expressed his concerns for the business side of the sport in public.
“This is something Jones and his managers should tell the UFC backstage and not make it public so fans can turn against a rich fighter complaining he’s not going to get richer for his trade. It’s not a good image sell,” said one commenter on the popular Bloody Elbow website.
But Jones said he should not be blamed if he is concerned about pay-per-view draws and other business matters.
“I fight for honor and integrity, I fight to be the best. I try to keep the martial arts spirit alive as much as possible,” Jones said in another ESPN interview.
“At the same time, I’m a 2012 warrior and I fight to provide for my family. This is a sport where we don’t have a retirement plan, we don’t have insurance for the rest of our lives,” he added.
“The money that I make today is the money that I will draw from when I’m 80 years old, when I ever get sick or I have to pay for college because I have several kids.”
Jones said fans should realize that fighters “fight to make money.”
“Thinking about the business aspect, the fans are so upset saying, ‘What does being the best have to do with pay-per-views?’ I think people have it all twisted,” he said. “We all fight to make money.”
The champion added that he does not want to end up broke once he retires from the sport.
“I refuse to be a broke athlete when I retire. So I don’t apologize for being aware of pay-per-view sales and for being business-savvy,” he said.
It is also somewhat a personal issue for Jones, who maintains that he does not want to have to go back to his parents and ask for money.
“My brothers are both in the (National Football League),” he said. “I was the college dropout of the group. I always had a fear of not making it and being a failure and having to go back to my parents and borrow money.”
“I’m from a long line of family members who need to borrow money from their parents. I don’t want to be that person,” Jones said.
Jones is set to defend his light heavyweight title against veteran fighter Dan Henderson on September at UFC 151. It will be his fourth defense of the title.