||09-05-2012 09:29 PM
UFC President Dana White: I Don't Hate Jon Jones
Sep 4, 2012 - When last we heard from Dana White, the UFC president vented his spleen during a now-legendary media teleconference announcing the cancellation of UFC 151.
Nearly two weeks later, White had some time to cool off and think about what happened. He gave his first in-depth interview since the fallout of the Jon Jones-Dan Henderson light heavyweight title fight to MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani, which aired Tuesday night on Fuel TV's "UFC Tonight."
In the course of a wide-ranging interview, White says he has no ill will toward Jones, who will defend his title against Vitor Belfort in the main event of UFC 152 on Sept. 22.
"Do I hate Jon Jones or have animosity toward him right now? I don't," said White. "If I did, I'd tell, you, I think you know that. We'll find out. As we move along in our relationship, we'll find out where we're at. It's a little weird, its never happened before, Jon Jones is, all my other interactions with Jon Jones have been, he's a young guy.
"Has he made some bad choices? Yeah," White continued. "Who hasn't at that age? Seriously. ... When you're in your early 20s, its hard to keep the wheels on the bus when all the fame and money and everything starts hitting. I give Jon Jones a lot of slack when it comes to that. The guy's young. There have been a lot of guys younger than him who have more fame and more money, but you gotta admit, its tough to deal with when you're his age."
White, however, remains something less than forgiving of Jones' trainer, Greg Jackson, whom White feels deserves a large portion of the blame for Jones' decision to turn down replacement opponent Chael Sonnen, which prompted White to pull the plug on the event.
"The thing you have to understand with Greg Jackson, I'll say it again and I've said it before, the guy's a businessman first and foremost before anything," said White. "This guy is a businessman, he's, you know, ‘we're a family.' that's what he kept telling Rashad [Evans] and Jon, we couldn't fight because we're a family. I told Rashad and Jon, ‘he is not your family.' Greg Jackson is not your family member. If things go badly, brother Greg won't be there tomorrow. Is he going to pay your bills? Will he take care of your family, your real family? No, he's not. And you saw, when push comes to shove, who did he pick? Who did he pick, who did he ultimately pick in the end? He picked Jon Jones, the guy that he believed would beat Rashad. That's a fact. He's a businessman."
Over the course of the chat, White confirmed several other items of discussion which emerged over the past couple weeks: That Anderson Silva stepped in and offered to defend his middleweight title to try to save the show, and that they financially compensated UFC 151 undercard fighters whose fights were not re-booked for the immediate future. He also shot down the idea that Jones called White and told him to tell Sonnen to stop calling him out, saying that he doesn't remember 100 percent for sure, but he doesn't recall Jones making such a request.
White admitted making a mistake in announcing on the teleconference that Jones would meet Lyoto Machida on Sept. 22, before the bout was actually signed.
"You know that when I make a fight, I don't say a word until both bout agreements are signed and the deal was done," White said. "I did exactly what it is that I said I'd never do. I was in a position where, the big media call was the next day, and I wanted to have some answers. So I went out there, and Machida was in the friggin jungle somewhere. [Machida manager] Ed [Soares] told me, 'he's in the jungle, I can't get a hold of him.' Ed says, 'I think he's going to take the fight, I don't see why he wouldn't.'
"So I went with it. It didn't work out. Here's a guy who's been terrorizing me for a title shot, he said that four weeks [notice] wasn't enough. I said 'OK' and I moved on. Lyoto has been crying for this title shot for a long time, and you know how this stuff goes: when you turn down the opportunity to fight, things start going in another path, another direction."
Machida's decision not to accept the fight led to Belfort's title shot. Ultimately, White said he'll leave it up to the fans to decide whether they want to watch Jones vs. Belfort.
"Whether people think he's worth the money to buy on pay-per-view, as a fight fan, that's up to you. I'm never going to sit here and tell you that because Jon Jones didn't fight in 151, that he's terrible and he's horrible and he's not a great fighter. He is. He is a great fighter. He's a phenomenal fighter."