About Us  |   Contact

Dana White on Jones-Ngannou, Mike Tyson, future UFC title fights

This story was updated at 1:40 PM Eastern.

UFC president Dana White did a 25-minute interview with ESPN's Brett Okamoto Thursday where he addressed the recent Jon Jones-Francis Ngannou fight rumors, Mike Tyson's fighting future, and some title fights they are looking to make.

On the prospects of Jones-Ngannou at heavyweight, White said that Jones "couldn't be asking for a more absurd amount of money at a worse time" and questioned why he was angling for a fight when he's never wanted to go up a weight class. He said a rematch with Dominic Reyes makes more sense while Jan Blachowicz also remains an option. White put over Jones as the greatest of all time with "no debate".

On Twitter, Jones retorted that he didn't ask for a pay increase and that they never made a number off. "Immediately the conversation was that I already made enough," he tweeted, later adding he's not mad at White or the UFC but is disappointed this went that route.

On Friday's ESPN First Take, White said he wasn't lying and doubled down that he was asking for "an obscene amount of money" and if Jones wants to speak up about what he asked for, that's up to him. White said they told him if he ever wanted to move to heavyweight, they would do a new deal and that was factored into a new deal he signed.

White also did an interesting, and sometimes contentious, interview with ESPN's Dan Le Betard Friday where he discussed fighter pay and unions among other news, but also said that their deal with Reebok is coming to an end and that they "are talking to people now". They will not revert back to letting fighters get their own sponsorship deals for placement on shorts like they used to.

Other notes from the Okamoto interview:

  • White said he got Mike Tyson a TV show to keep him away from returning to boxing but that he's a grown man and if he wants to fight again, he will find a way to be there even if no fans are allowed. He said Tyson had something lined up and that it's something big.
  • White will stay at Fight Island for a month when it gets up and running with the assumption they will run three or four shows there. The infrastructure being built is for training, food service, and for sleeping arrangements. He was not asked if the facility was in Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
  • After their next two shows in Las Vegas, White said UFC will be back on track with their 2020 schedule, running Saturdays unless ESPN wanted more shows.
  • He confirmed that The Ultimate Fighter will return to UFC Fight Pass this year with some changes but the same style of show with coaches, etc. 
  • He confirmed that the Tuesday Night Contender Series will return this year and said he is working on how to combat the issue of regional MMA being on hold for the time being.
  • He put over Fightlore on Fight Pass as a show people need to see.
  • While not giving any timeframes, he said flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanne Calderwood, heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier III, middleweight champion Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa, and Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title are all being worked on. Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Till is also a fight they want to make.
  • As far as welterweight, he said there's a lot of drama and "social media b.s." going on and that things should shake out soon.