UFC president Dana White says former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones may have cost himself millions of dollars because of the troubles that have kept him out of the cage.
The UFC announced they were stripping Jon Jones of the interim light heavyweight championship, the second time they've lifted a belt off the champion in two years. Jones was suspended by USADA for a year this week because of a failed drug test ahead of UFC 200 that forced his title unification bout out of the main event slot and off the card.
In April of 2015, Jones was stripped of the title after a hit and run incident and the legal situation that resulted. In his absence, Daniel Cormier won the vacant title by defeating Anthony Johnson and successfully defended it against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192.
While the title might represent the most obvious loss to Jones over the past two years, he has lost considerably more than that.
"He's lost a lot of money, he left a lot of money on the table," UFC president Dana White told the Dan LeBatard Show on Tuesday. "I'll tell you this too, in the history of combat sports, nobody's ever taken this much time off and come back and looked like they did when they were younger, even [Muhammad] Ali. So it's going to be interesting.
"Who knows [how much money he lost]. If he moved up to heavyweight and fought for the heavyweight championship, it could have been massive. It could be anywhere from $15 to $20 million."
The UFC has booked featherweight champion Conor McGregor as the challenger to Eddie Alvarez's lightweight title at UFC 205 and the fight is being called the biggest in company history by some pundits. A super fight with Jones, as the light heavyweight champion, for the heavyweight title could've been just as big in terms of hype and revenue. Given Jones' roots in New York, the opportunity to fight in a super fight in Madison Square Garden would've meant more than simply dollars.
White also lamented how many title fights and potential super fights at heavyweight Jones, and the UFC, has lost. All of which has potentially not only impacted the pocket books of both company and fighter, but also left a big dent in Jones' legacy, perhaps preventing him from being remembered as one of the greatest of all time.
"He'd definitely one of the guys who could have gone down as one of the greatest ever. If you look at all the time he's been out, he probably would have defended the title a few times. He might even be fighting at heavyweight right now. Who knows. When you do what this guy has done, you've got to pay the price," White said.
"I think because everyone looks at Jon Jones as the guy who's probably the best to ever do it. The potential that he had. Who knows what fights we missed or what could have been because of all this madness."