UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones spoke Monday for the first time publicly about his recent contract negotiations with the UFC. The promotion had originally announced that his championship rematch with Alexander Gustafsson would take place on August 30, but Jones had yet to sign on for the fight.
This practice isn’t commonplace for Dana White and the UFC, who usually like to have both parties as close to signing as possible before they reveal the fight. Jones said on this week’s episode of The MMA Hour that the date hadn’t been discussed with him before it was released to the media.
“It’s not that I haven’t signed a contract,” Jones said. “I hadn’t even heard that date before. So I thought it was unprofessional, and I thought it was a bullying technique, a bully style of negotiation, I don’t know what it was, really. But it is what it is.
“I just kind of identified it with being a like strong-arm technique on their part, trying to get fans pushing for a fight and prematurely announcing a fight.”
After it was learned that Jones had not signed the contract yet, the UFC released a quote from White on UFC.com stating that Jones hadn’t signed his bout agreement because he wanted to fight Daniel Cormier, not Gustafsson.
Though he wasn’t pleased with the timeline of events, Jones was fairly quiet on social media throughout, aside from a short video he released and immediately deleted.
“It was annoying,” Jones said. “But I just needed to kind of weather that storm and let everybody call me a ‘chicken’ for a few weeks until I actually got to go in there and negotiate that contact, and take the fight.”
Jones and the UFC did finally meet for a face-to-face meeting last week, and the two sides came to an agreement on a new contract, and a date for the bout with Gustafsson. The two will now headline UFC 178 on September 27, likely for Toronto.
With Jones and the UFC coming to a deal, the champion said that his relationship with his bosses is sound, and each side was able to address each other’s concerns.
“I think we are in a very healthy spot. We actually talked about being in contact more often and things like that. Instead of them going through my managers to talk about things, we’ll have a more open line of communication. So I’m very happy about that. I feel like we’re in a very open and honest place right now.”