ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones said he respects Chuck Liddell and coach John Hackleman, but he’s forging his own road in MMA.
“I’m not Chuck Liddell,” Jones told MMAjunkie. “I’m just me. I’m shamelessly me. I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to do in my career, and I don’t try to compare myself to guys like Chuck or any champion.
“I figure as long as I’m breaking records and doing my part, that’s all that matters.”
Right now, Jones (19-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC) is well into record territory. He long ago eclipsed Liddell’s mark of four consecutive title defenses in the UFC’s marquee 205-pound division, and later this month at UFC 172, he will attempt to extend his reign to seven when he meets Glover Teixeira (22-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC).
UFC 172 takes place April 26 at Baltimore’s Baltimore Arena. The event’s main card airs live on pay-per-view following prelims on FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass.
Jones’ fight with Texeira has put him in the crosshairs of Hackleman, who worked with Teixeria and Liddell at The Pit in Northern California. The coach implied the current champ doesn’t share Liddell’s fighting spirit and isn’t as beloved by UFC fans as the now-retired fighter.
While Hackleman didn’t directly accuse Jones of overlooking Teixeira, he said such an attitude is another reason why the champ isn’t popular.
Jones, a top pay-per-view draw, said he read Hackleman’s comments and thinks the coach got ahead of himself.
“I think he thought that I was maybe trying to offend his program, or Glover, which I wasn’t,” he said. “I think the whole thing was based on me looking over Glover, something that I’m not doing.
“I’m not going to sit here and insult John. I respect him a lot as a coach; I actually think he’s one of the best in the business. That’s why I’m training so hard for this fight – because I respect Glover and his coach.”
Jones also deflected less-than-nice comments recently made about him by Phil Davis, who recently repeated a claim that the champ would withdraw from UFC 172, opening a spot for an interim title fight with Teixeira.
Davis is scheduled to fight Anthony Johnson before Jones vs. Teixeira headlines the event, but he believes he may get promoted to headliner status.
“Phil, he has his job to do,” Jones said. “His job is to try and get a title shot, and he figures if he can stir up enough controversy and insult me enough that that will get him closer to the title shot.
“Maybe it’s working – we’re definitely talking about him more than usual. Good for him. Obviously, I’ll be here. My goal is to be in the No. 1 spot when he gets to me, and everything will take care of itself in time.”
Until then, Jones is sure he’ll field more trash talk from a list of fighters looking to take his title.
Asked whether he differentiated between Davis and Daniel Cormier, with whom he shares a long-simmering rivalry, Jones said all of the callouts and criticisms are part of a trend.
“One thing I’ve realized is I’m getting chirped by guys who aren’t actually contracted to fight me,” he said. “I think when you know your challenge is coming up, it can be a little more nerveracking than sitting on the sidelines and talking about what you would do. Me knowing this, I’m just going to focus on the task at hand and let everything else take care of itself in the future.”
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