LAS VEGAS -- On Thursday, UFC president Dana White clarified his stance regarding Jon Jones’ eye pokes in his title defense against Glover Teixeira on Saturday.
Jones (20-1) recorded his seventh consecutive light heavyweight title defense over Teixeira at UFC 172 via dominant unanimous decision.
In the second round, referee Dan Miragliotta warned Jones for poking Teixeira in the eye. Despite the warning, Jones continued to open his hand and place it on Teixeira’s forehead. Miragliotta never warned Jones again and did not deduct a point.
Immediately after the bout, White said in an interview with Fox Sports, “We’ve got to stop that stuff -- opening of the hands and putting hands on the face.”
On Thursday, White told ESPN.com that while Jones’ foul in the second round made him cringe, he thought the referee handled it well and didn’t mind Jones’ tactics the rest of the fight.
“He stopped,” White said. “I think what Jones is trying to do is, he’s got that range against a hard puncher. So, he’s trying to push him off. It’s no different than what [Muhammad] Ali used to do.
“A lot of guys [open their hands] when they block punches. You have to close your hands. I hate that. It’s very dangerous. Trust me, when Jones did it the first few times I was like, ‘Oh my god, don’t make this fight stop on an eye poke.’
“But that’s what the referee is there for and he handled it. That was it. People will nitpick Jones for anything he does. The guy puts on the sickest performance. He put on a flawless performance.”
Jones, 26, posted a video on Instagram this week in which he mocked his critics by pretending to cry and say, “Jones put his finger in his eye. Dirtiest fighter in MMA.” He has since deleted it from his account.
It was the second consecutive fight in which a Jones opponent complained of an eye poke. Jones caught Alexander Gustafsson in the eye in the first round of a title fight at UFC 165 in September.
Jones is set to face Gustafsson in a rematch of that September fight later this year. White has said the UFC is considering hosting it in the challenger’s backyard, at Friends Arena near Stockholm, Sweden.
White said he plans to speak to Jones in two weeks.
“I’m about two weeks away from talking to him,” White said. “Forty thousand seats. That will sell out like that. I was just talking to AEG [Anschutz Entertainment Group] guys and it’s 40,000. We’ll sell out.”