- Dana White and Jon Jones had a contentious contract negotiation in 2014, with disagreement over opponent and pay raise.
- Texts between White and Lorenzo Fertitta reveal their frustration with Jones and their determination to secure him for the UFC.
- Jones has had multiple contract disputes with the UFC, leading to his hiatus in 2020-2023 and criticism from White.
In 2014, UFC CEO Dana White and the then-light heavyweight champion Jon Jones found themselves in a contentious contract negotiation.
According to information disclosed in recent court documents, as reported by MMA Fighting, White and Jones were locked in a disagreement regarding the opponent for Jones’s title defense in the 205-pound category. In 2014, Jones expressed a desire to defend the title against Daniel Cormier, while the UFC purportedly insisted on arranging a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson.
The UFC sought to extend Jones’s contract with additional fights, but “Bones” insisted on a substantial pay raise before committing to an extension. Jones stood firm, refusing to concede until his financial demands were met.
The relationship between White and Jones has been tumultuous throughout their time in the promotion, reaching a boiling point as evident in a text conversation revealed on May 24, 2014.
Dana White Ask Lorenzo Fertita About ‘Scumbag’ Jon Jones In Text Exchange
The UFC Boss Wasn’t Happy With One Of His Stars
“What’s up with Jones? Did he straighten up or is he still being a scumbag?” White texted then-UFC Chairman Fertitta in a message recently unsealed as part of the UFC antitrust lawsuit.
“Still a douche, but we’re inching closer,” Fertitta responded. “Haven’t moved on money, but sent the letter with an ultimatum.”
“Awesome,” White responded. “F*** that punk, Lorenzo. He needs to know we don’t need him, or he will f*** us over more than he already does.”
Jones’s relationship with the UFC had faced its share of challenges, notably highlighted by his refusal to accept a short-notice title defense against Chael Sonnen at UFC 151. This decision led to public condemnation from Dana White.
With five fights remaining on Jones’ contract, White and Lorenzo Fertitta aimed to secure the champion for an extended period, inadvertently revealing negotiating tactics that are now central to a court battle.
The legal dispute questions whether the UFC violated the law by committing fighters to long-term contracts, thereby restricting their ability to compete in the competitive market for elite MMA fighters. The plaintiffs in the UFC antitrust suit argue that such contracts were part of an illicit strategy to suppress fighter salaries, seeking damages exceeding $1 billion. The case is anticipated to go to trial in April.
Jon Jones Three Year Absence From UFC Was Over Pay Dispute
The Reason Jones-Ngannou Never Happened
Jones went on a hiatus from February 2020 to March 2023 due to another contract dispute with the UFC, this time concerning potential compensation for a superfight against then-UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.
Jones captured the UFC heavyweight title in his first matchup in the weight class against Ciryl Gane.
White publicly criticized Jones, claiming he demanded an “obscene” $30 million, equivalent to what boxing champion Deontay Wilder received for a bout with Tyson Fury.
White also suggested Jones was avoiding a matchup with Ngannou, insinuating fear. Jones vehemently denied White’s claims about avoiding the Ngannou clash that never came to fruition.