One of the UFC's greatest champions appears set to give up his title.
Jon Jones, the longtime UFC light heavyweight champ, tweeted Sunday that he plans to relinquish the belt and take time off from the Octagon. And sources told ESPN's Ariel Helwani that Jones is serious and that is his real stance.
"To the light heavyweight title Veni, vidi, vici," Jones wrote on Twitter, after noting in a separate tweet, "Bones out."
Bones out, when you see me in the streets just call me JJ 🤙🏾— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 31, 2020
To the light heavyweight title Veni, vidi, vici— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 31, 2020
"Let me know if you guys want to set up a day in 2021 for that [Israel Adesanya] fight," Jones wrote, directing the comment toward the UFC. "Hopefully you guys will be willing to pay by then."
Requests for comment from the UFC were not immediately returned Sunday.
The tweets are part of an ongoing war of words between Jones and UFC president Dana White. The two have been at odds for more than a week following an unsuccessful round of negotiations for a potential heavyweight fight between Jones and Francis Ngannou. It's unclear if these tweets are part of the very public negotiations between both sides or an earnest statement from Jones.
Jones has adamantly denied White's assertion he asked for a specific amount of money. In one social media post Friday night, Jones went so far as to suggest the UFC release him entirely if his reputation causes the promotion to "undervalue me this much." He reiterated that point in a tweet early Sunday morning.
You're talking all that big guy stuff about not caring, put your money where your mouth is and release me from that contract— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 31, 2020
On Saturday at the UFC Las Vegas postfight news conference, White said that Jones has "done a very good job of tarnishing" his own name without any help from the company he fights for.
"He can do whatever he wants," White said. "He wants to sit out, fight, he can do whatever. He can say whatever he wants publicly. It's his God-given right in America. He can say whatever he wants. When he's ready to come back, he can.
"In one of his tweets, he said I tarnished his name. I tarnished you? You've done a very good job of tarnishing you."
White was, presumably, referring to Jones' checkered legal history. Jones has been arrested multiple times during his UFC career, on charges ranging from felony hit-and-run to DWI. He pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in his home state of New Mexico in March.
Jones, 32, revealed the Ngannou negotiations via social media May 21, claiming the UFC immediately informed him he wouldn't make any additional money to move up a weight class. This past week, White told ESPN that Jones asked for an "absurd amount of money," comparable to heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder's recent purses.
"Don't be a f---ing liar," Jones wrote on Twitter on Friday. "My reputation has already taking enough hits. I don't need this bulls--- Dana. I never asked for [Deontay Wilder] numbers. And how about since [Wilder] is making $30 million, we settle for half of that. Since you said I'm the [greatest of all time] and everything."
White has repeatedly claimed that Jones is the greatest MMA fighter of all time, while adding he believes Jones could have accomplished much more were it not for his issues outside of the cage. Jones has only one UFC loss, by disqualification in 2009. Jones became the youngest champion in UFC history when he won the light heavyweight in 2011 at age 23. He has the most championship victories in UFC history (14) and is on the longest unbeaten streak in UFC history (18 fights).
On Saturday, White said he is ready for Jones to defend his 205-pound title whenever he wants, but he balked at Jones' alleged financial demands.
"Being the greatest of all time doesn't mean you get $30 million. It's being able to sell," White said, adding that the UFC walked Jones through the recent numbers on his fights. "[Jones] said, 'I don't give a f--- what the numbers are. I want what I want.'
"That's not how life works."
After hearing White's comments, Jones went on Twitter to explain his side of things.
At no point did I ever demand anything from you Dana, I simply asked for a Super fight and asked to be compensated for it. You are the one who started talking negotiations publicly and showing the world how much you've been withholding from your athletes this whole time— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 31, 2020
Hunter and I had a very respectful conversation, I love how you're trying to paint this picture of me being some angry guy disrespectfully demanding money. And then bringing up my out of the cage affairs to justify under paying me by tens of millions for years— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 31, 2020
Jones (26-1-0) last fought on Feb. 8, when he successfully defended his light heavyweight title with a unanimous decision win over Dominick Reyes (12-1-0) at UFC 247.