UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones tells Breitbart Sports that the widely-reported story that Nike dropped him as a product endorser because of a press-conference brawl was a lie.
“Nike did not drop me because of that fight. I kind of owe an apology to Nike for saying that they dropped me because of the fight. They actually didn’t,” Jones said in response to a question posed by Breitbart Sports on the UFC 182 conference call. “The truth is that Nike didn’t seem that they wanted to move forward in the field of MMA.”
But that’s not what Jones and his representatives told the press and the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) in the aftermath of his brawl on the dais with Daniel Cormier this summer. The NSAC fined Jones 10 percent of his fight purse because of the skirmish with his challenger. He cited sponsorship repercussions as punishment he had already endured.
“I’ve faced some punishment already,” Jones noted to the commission. “I’ve lost a very big endorsement of mine–one of my biggest. I’ve lost people who were interested in sponsoring me. Those were going to be gigantic deals.” Jones cited the “Nike deal” specifically.
“When I was in front of the commission I definitely worded it wrong,” Jones conceded on the conference call.
Jones told Breitbart Sports that much of what Nike promised in terms of commercials and other money-making ventures in the deal didn’t materialize. “My rep came to me,” Jones explained, “and said, ‘Hey Jon, I’m sorry. I know we promised you this but I don’t think we’re moving in that direction.’ So, they said, ‘We will keep you on board as long as you want to be on board.’”
Then the fight on the dais happened between Jones and his UFC 182 opponent Daniel Cormier. The parties used the scrap to explain away a parting that was already underway when the brawl occurred.
“I was supposed to be out anyway,” Jones candidly admitted. “We talked about it. It was already official…. And then we got into the brawl. My rep called me and said, ‘Jon, I know we were going to wait another month or two before announcing that, or before having you sign the contract to release you. But since you got into this fight let’s just have you sign this paperwork now.” They agreed to terminate the agreement with the unsanctioned fight at the press conference serving as the pretext.
“I was going to start my third year of the deal,” Jones explained of the agreement signed in 2012. “I told them, ‘You know what? If you guys aren’t too serious about martial arts, then I don’t want to be part of the company.’”
Jones takes on undefeated wrestler Daniel Cormier this Saturday night in one of the biggest fights in UFC history. Neither fighter owns a legitimate loss on his record. With victories over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Rampage Jackson, Alexander Gustafsson, and Lyoto “the Dragon” Machida,” Jones, whose two brothers compete in the NFL, has risen to the top of the mixed-martial arts world at just 27 years of age.
The UFC readies in 2015 to replace individual sponsors for fighters with a one-size-fits-all deal with Reebok. The timing of Jones’s move from Nike to Reebok coming when the UFC struck a sponsorship deal with Reebok inspired the question about whether something more explained the parting with Nike than Jones had initially let on.
“The truth of the matter is I did not get dropped by Nike,” Jones admitted. “It was a mutual thing, something that we had discussed months before the actual fight.”