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Why Isn't One of the UFC's Biggest Stars Willing to Fight?

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

Jon Jones is easily one of the biggest stars in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He has had an incredibly successful career and amassed a record 28-1, with his lone loss coming by disqualification.

Although wildly successful inside the octagon, outside it, Jones is no stranger to controversy. He has been in legal trouble throughout his career, failed several pre-fight drug tests, and feuded with fighters and fans online.

However, this time, Jones has taken aim at the UFC and its leader Dana White.

It all started in May of 2020 when negotiations began for Jon's upcoming fight. After Jon watched Deontay Wilder lose a boxing match and still walk away with north of $20 million in prize money, he was rightfully pissed off. Jones then fired off a series of tweets, claiming that the UFC has been ripping fighters off for years. And while Jones said he does not need the UFC to make it up to him, his message was very clear: Jones will not be fighting unless he makes what he deserves.

Jones was willing to back up those statements having sat out since February of 2020. Meanwhile, Jones had been teasing that he would go up to Heavyweight, a move that was justified by him having cleaned out the Light Heavyweight division. He gave up his Light Heavyweight (LHW) title, a belt he defended a record 11 times since earning it in 2011. With no significant challenge in LHW and a vacant belt, it seemed Jones was ready to move on.

Moving on does not mean letting go. Since Jones' initial dust-up with the UFC, he still has not booked a fight. Dana White continually gets asked in press conferences why Jones has not been booked, and his response always sounds something like: take it or leave it. White consistently dismisses the money issue when asked about Jones and claims that the UFC puts on fights every weekend. They would welcome Jones back at any time. The kicker? He will have to fight for whatever prize the UFC offers.

The trick for superstar fighters, like Jones, is they know the money is there. Jorge Masvidal, Conor McGregor, and Khabib Nurmagomedov make huge sums of money when they book a fight. But when you compare their pay to the UFC's revenue, even on a single event, the disparity is clear. Often, just the ticket sales alone (called "the gate") is enough to cover the entire card of fighter salaries and bonuses.

This is significant because the UFC does not make most of its money on the gate. The UFC lives on pay-per-view buys. In the most recent event, UFC 264, Dana White estimated that they sold 1.8 million PPV at $70 each.

Quick and dirty $126 million.

I think we all understand why fighters like Jones are done taking $500,000.

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