After telling ESPN.com recently that he doesn’t want a rematch with Lyoto Machida because of their previous low pay-per-view numbers, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones received plenty of backlash from fans.
But Jones isn’t backing down. He reiterated his position Tuesday during a conference call to promote his title fight with Dan Henderson at UFC 151 on Sept. 1.
“It’s been well-documented that my sole reason for picking up MMA in the first place is because I had a kid on the way,” Jones said. “But I haven’t lost sight of my original goal and that is to be successful in my parents' eye.
“My brothers [Arthur and Chandler] are both in the NFL, and I was the college dropout of the group. So 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 might be the fighter coming out front and center on the moneymaking issue, but his opponent on Sept. 1 is firmly in the champ’s corner on this issue.
“I pay attention [to pay-per-view revenue],” Henderson said. “You hope the numbers are going to stay up there, especially in the past few years with the economy being lower.
“I feel fortunate enough to be in a sport that’s been on the rise and growing so dramatically over the last few years. It’s nice to have a solid job during that time when a lot of people are losing their jobs because of the economy.”
Henderson didn’t address, nor was he asked, whether he’d openly express not wanting to face a fighter who doesn’t generate sufficient pay-per-view numbers.
Jones also doesn’t want to go down that road again, at least not until after his battle with Henderson.
“I’ve talked past Henderson a little bit too much this training camp,” Jones said. “I kind of regret it. Dan Henderson is a monster and I don’t want to talk past him anymore. It’s time for me to focus on him in every way, shape or form.”
But don’t expect Jones to soften his stance on wanting to earn as much money as possible during his mixed martial arts career. He is very aware that the day will come when he will no longer be able to compete inside the octagon, and when it does he intends to be financially secure.
Harsh criticism from a few fans won’t deter him from completing his long-term agenda.
“I fight for honor and integrity; I fight to be the best,” Jones said. “I try to keep the martial arts spirit alive as much as possible. 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.
“The money that I make today is the money 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. 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. We all fight to make money.
"I refuse to be a broke athlete when I retire. So I don’t apologize for being aware of pay-per-view sales and being business savvy."