The UFC and Jon Jones are at loggerheads over money. The former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion wants a significant bump in pay to fight the new UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou.
"Bones" believes that he is deserving of a massive payday as the super-fight between him and Ngannou will generate big business for the UFC.
UFC President Dana White has shown no signs of caving to Jones’ demands. So should the UFC give Jones the payday he wants or is he asking for too much?
Let’s take a look at how Jon Jones’ best PPV buys compare with the best UFC pay-per-views of all-time.
UFC 229 - Khabib vs McGregor - 2.4 million buys
The highest selling UFC PPV of all-time is UFC 229 which took place on October 6th, 2018 in Las Vegas. The card was headlined by UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov taking on former UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
The lead-up was intense with Khabib and Conor both trash-talking each other, with McGregor pushing the limits of what was acceptable to fight fans.
Before UFC 223 in Brooklyn, Conor attacked the bus Khabib and other UFC fighters were on, smashing a window that injured several people. This only heightened the interest in this fight.
It’s not surprising that this epic rivalry is the most popular UFC PPV of all-time with an unbelievable record-breaking 2.4 million buys.
UFC 214 - Jones vs Cormier 2 - 860,000 buys
Arguably the most intense rivalry in UFC history (before Conor and Khabib fought), Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier met for a second time at UFC 214 in July 2017. Jones had handed DC his first defeat by unanimous decision at UFC 182.
The lead-up to this fight had it all: drug test failures, stripped titles, arrests, and eye-poking accusations. Daniel Cormier had regained the UFC Light Heavyweight title by beating Anthony Johnson to set up this epic rematch.
UFC 214 made 860,000 buys and is the highest-selling UFC PPV of Jon Jones’ career.
UFC 202 - McGregor vs Diaz 2 - 1.65 million buys
The second highest-selling UFC PPV of all-time is UFC 202, headlined by the rematch between ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz in 2016.
After Diaz shocked the MMA world by submitting Conor McGregor in the second round at UFC 196, the Irishman demanded an immediate rematch.
UFC fans were keen to see how Conor would respond to his first loss in the UFC which led to the (then) highest PPV buy rate in UFC history of 1.65 million.
UFC 182 - Jones vs Cormier - 800,000 buys
The first matchup between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier happened at UFC 182 in Las Vegas on January 3rd, 2015. The long-awaited fight between the longtime champion and undefeated challenger is the second-highest selling PPV in Jon Jone’s career.
In the lead-up to the fight, Jones and Cormier were involved in a crazy public brawl in the MGM Grand lobby, where DC threw a shoe at Jon Jones.
The bitter feud led to an 800,000 buy rate for UFC 182.
UFC 257 - McGregor vs Poirier - 1.6 million buys
Fight Island in Abu Dhabi played host to UFC 257 on January 23rd, 2021. The third highest ever selling UFC PPV was headlined by Dustin Poirier rematching ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor.
It was McGregor’s first fight back in the UFC since he beat Donald Cerrone in January 2020. Since losing to McGregor in 2014 at featherweight, Poirier had reeled off impressive victories over Dan Hooker, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez and Max Holloway.
UFC 257 did a massive 1.6 million pay-per-view buys.
UFC 232 - Jones vs Gustafsson 2 - 700,000 buys
Jon Jones’s third-highest selling PPV was UFC 232 when he faced Alexander Gustafsson for the second time in Los Angeles in December 2018.
As per most Jones PPVs, there was drama before the event. Jones failed a drug test the week of the fight but the amount was so low that the California Athletic State Commission agreed to let the UFC move the fight from Las Vegas to LA.
The first matchup between Jones and Gustafsson was an epic encounter with many believing the Swedish fighter had done enough to beat the champion. It’s one of the greatest title fights in UC history.
UFC 232 sold a total of 700,000 PPV buys.
We go to the scorecards
When you look at the pay-per-view buy numbers, the top 3 Jon Jones events don’t stack up against the top 3 UFC PPVs. However, if you take Conor McGregor’s events out of the equation (he has the top 5) then it looks a lot better for Jones.
For example, only a handful of fighters have a higher selling PPV event than Jones, and most of them are now retired. Jones also has a very consistent buy rate of around 600,000-700,000 buys.
To put this in context, the recent super fight between Israel Adesanya and Jan Blachowicz made 800,000 buys.
If Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou ever meet in the UFC octagon, the PPV is guaranteed to do big business. So it seems ridiculous that the UFC would not make this fight. Let's hope they can come to terms with Jones and give the fans the mega fight they all want.