Talks between the UFC and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones over a potential jump to heavyweight stalled out last month after Jones requested an "absurd" amount of money to do so, according to UFC president Dana White.
Jones (26-1) publicly stated on social media late last week that he was "currently in negotiation" with the UFC regarding a potential fight against heavyweight knockout artist Francis Ngannou. About an hour later, Jones said the UFC nixed the topic "before even discussing numbers," and he even suggested he might take a break from the sport entirely.
On Thursday, White told ESPN the amount of money Jones requested to move up was unrealistic and said Jones still has work to do in his own 205-pound weight class.
"It's one thing to come out and say, 'I want more money,'" White said. "The amount of money Jon Jones wanted -- first of all, in the light heavyweight division, [a rematch] against Dominick Reyes is the fight that makes sense. Is Jon Jones going to fight Francis Ngannou and then take a run at the heavyweight title? I don't believe that. He's never wanted to move to heavyweight before.
"For the amount of money he's asking for, it's not going to happen. He couldn't be asking for a more absurd amount of money at a worse time."
Later Thursday, Jones took to Twitter to deny what White said about his purse demands, saying he was not "gonna sit back and allow Dana to lie to the fans."
It's interesting to just sit here and watch your boss lie to the camera like this. We never discussed any increase in pay. Immediately the conversation was that I already made enough. I never made a number offer. https://t.co/YYx4FMHeIs— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 29, 2020
Jones, 32, is widely considered the greatest fighter of all time -- a sentiment White agrees with. He holds the most successful title defenses in UFC light heavyweight history, and his only loss came under highly controversial circumstances, when he was disqualified for throwing an illegal elbow in a fight he was dominating in 2009.
He won his most recent fight by close unanimous decision against Reyes (12-1) in February. White seemed to hint that's the fight to make, although he also mentioned a potential bout against Jan Blachowicz, a Polish contender on a three-fight win streak.