UFC President Dana White has a message for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones: stick to fighting.
After hearing that recent foe Alexander Gustafsson will be fighting Jimi Manuwa in March, Jones suggested would-be contenders should face tougher opposition to qualify for a chance at his belt.
White, though, laughed off his comments.
“Jon, I love you, but you’re not a matchmaker,” White said this past weekend. “Fight your fight, he’ll fight his fight, and don’t worry about it.”
Jones (19-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC), who’s is expected to fight Glover Teixeira (22-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC) in early 2014, had his toughest test yet when he fought Gustafsson at UFC 165. After narrowly edging the challenger via decision in the Sept. 21 pay-per-view headliner, UFC officials opted not to book an immediate rematch.
Originally scheduled to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) at a UFC European Tour event on March 8, Gustafsson (15-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) then was slated to fight injury replacement Manuwa (14-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC), an undefeated fighter who’s won all three of his UFC fights via knockout. With most of the division tied up, and with Manuwa quickly emerging as a legit contender, officials opted to book them as the London show’s Plan B.
Jones, ranked No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA light-heavyweight rankings, initially was told by White that a rematch with Gustafsson, ranked No. 4, could be next after UFC 165. Instead, it’ll be No. 5 Teixeira, and Gustafsson gets unranked Manuwa, who’s an honorable mention (just outside the division’s top 15) on MMAjunkie.com.
While some, including Jones, have called for a No. 1 contender’s bout between Gustafsson and former heavyweight Daniel Cormier, White suggested the champ focus on his own fights and leave the matchmaking to the professionals.
“It makes you sound like you’re worried about it,” White said. “When you talk like that, it sounds like you’re worried about it.”
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Jon Jones)