Jon Jones walked away from his latest negotiations with the UFC feeling hurt after the promotion refused to pay him more for a blockbuster fight at heavyweight.
"The UFC clearly told me that they would redo my contract the day I went heavyweight, and it would be a different deal, so I've always held that in my back pocket, that my goal is to fight at light heavyweight for a long time until I got to a place that I've got nothing else to prove, and then retire as a heavyweight with some real big fights - risk putting it all on the line against these guys that could cause some serious damage," he told MMA reporter John Morgan. "Thursday, I found out that that's just simply not happening, and it's upsetting. I feel like someone's put a little bit of a limit on my ceiling."
Jones was in talks to face Francis Ngannou in a bout that would have seen him move up from light heavyweight, where he's the reigning champion. Jones has spent his career running through the division, with his lone loss coming via disqualification for an illegal elbow in 2009.
"Even if you didn't want to change my contract, the fact that they didn't want to sign me up for a one-fight deal to fight a guy that's 40 pounds bigger than me, the scariest dude on the planet - Francis Ngannou - the guy that nobody wants to fight, I'm willing to fight him while being smaller than him, and you're not going to pay me $1 more?" Jones said. "You mean to tell me that this fight isn't worth anything more than me stepping in against a Jan Blachowicz? It's just insulting. Everyone would love to see me take this risk, and they offered me zero upside."
UFC president Dana White previously downplayed the chances of Jones taking on Ngannou. While White admitted Friday that fans are clamoring for the fight, he poured more cold water on the idea.
"Obviously that's a fight that people would love to see and these guys are taking a lot of smack back and forth. I don't see that fight happening," White told Aaron Bronsteter of TSN.
Jones has been one of the UFC's greatest draws for several years. His next title defense hasn't been booked, and it may not be for a while yet. The 32-year-old indicated he's prepared to sit out until the promotion gives him the heavyweight fight he wants for the money he demands.
"If this is how the UFC feels about me and that I'm really worth, and they don't want to give me a piece of the pie in any way, then I don't want to have to live by their schedule," he said. "I feel like I don't have to answer to them if this is how they're going to treat me. I'm totally fine with them vacating the belt, letting someone else fight for the belt, and I'll come around, I guess, when I'm ready to, and I'll see if they're willing to pay for a really big fight. But as of right now, to fight Jan Blachowicz, what do I have to gain there? To fight Dominick Reyes? Any one of them, I don't have much to gain in these situations.
"As a partner, it was always very clear that my best days would be when I move to heavyweight, but now they just shit on all that, and I'm hurt, to be honest with you."
Jones last fought in February, defending his light heavyweight championship with a unanimous decision over Reyes, who's been angling for a rematch.