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Jon Jones: ‘I refuse to be a broke athlete when I retire’

Following his devastating knockout of Ryan Bader on the UFC on Fox card earlier this month, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida has been guaranteed the next shot at the 205-pound title.

Before Machida gets another crack at it though, hard-hitting veteran Dan Henderson will fight UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones for his title at UFC 151 on Sept. 1. Machida will then face the winner of that bout.

However, Jones made the statement earlier this week during an interview that if he defeats Henderson at UFC 151, he has no interest in fighting Machida again.

Jones did already defeat Machida via second round submission last December and left the Brazilian laying unconscious on the Octagon floor. So what’s the problem?

Machida has been notoriously hard to game plan against. He found success against Jones during the first round of their UFC 140 main event bout, and to this day remains the only opponent to win a round against the 25-year-old phenom inside the Octagon.

But there is another reason Jones is not clamoring for another showdown with “The Dragon” — low Pay-Per-View sales. As a UFC champion Jones is guaranteed a percentage of the Pay-Per-View sales on cards he fights on. Evidently the money he made off their first encounter was nothing to write home about.

“I don’t want to fight Lyoto Machida,” Jones said. “He was my lowest pay-per-view draw of last year. No one wants to see me fight Lyoto Machida. I don’t want to fight Lyoto again. Lyoto is high risk and low reward.”

Jones has taken some backlash for the comments. Readers have responded by saying, “Jones,do you luv [sic] the fight game or money choose one please.” Also, “Now this guy is just disrespecting the sport if he thinks he’s too good to fight certain people. PPV numbers? Give me a break. What a phony.” — And much more of the same.

The Champ responded to the critics on a UFC 151 media conference call on Tuesday and made no apologies for paying attention to Pay-Per-View numbers. Jones said:

“When it comes to the Pay-Per-View conversation in general, I fight for honor and integrity. I fight to be the best. I try to keep the martial arts spirit alive as much as possible. At the same time, I’m a 2012 warrior and I fight to provide for my family. This is a sport where we don’t have a retirement plan and things like that. We don’t have insurance for the rest of our lives. So, the money that I make today is the money I’ll draw from when I’m 80-years-old if I ever get sick. I have to pay for several colleges already cause I have a lot of kids.

“Thinking about the business aspect, the fans are so upset. They’re like, ‘What does being the best have to do with Pay-Per-Views?’ I think people have it all twisted. Right now I’m on the phone with you reporters because you guys want to make money. You want to write the best stories so you can make money. Well I fight to make money, quite frankly. If I was to not evolve with my time and be completely ignorant to finances, Pay-Per-View sales, taxes, investing, it would be a shame.

“I refuse to be a broke athlete when I retire. I don’t apologize for being aware of Pay-Per-View sales and being business savvy. It’s 2012 and there’s a lot of broke guys out there right now who was famous at one point and all that type of stuff. Yes, it wasn’t something I originally came into the sport with, but realize, I’m evolving, I’m changing and I’m growing as a person. And I can’t apologize for that. If I was the same person that I was when I joined the sport I would be failing.”

So what about Dan Henderson? Does Jones consider Hendo high risk and low reward?

No.

According to Jones, he’s the exact opposite. He explained:

“With Dan Henderson it’s high risk and high reward, definitely. Dan Henderson is someone who has a Pride belt. And he has the Strikeforce belt. I feel like I’m fighting the Pride champion, the current Pride champion, the current Strikeforce champion in some ways. He left both organizations on top, if I’m correct. I’m really fighting to gain some of that credibility he has. I don’t take his age into consideration whatsoever. He’s just a monster as Rampage and all the guys I have fought in 2011. Beating Dan Henderson is very very important to me. He beat Fedor. Fedor is one of my idols. So to have Dan Henderson in my win column, it means the world to me.”

You can listen to everything the Champ had to say, as well as everything Hendo had to say here: “UFC 151 media call with Jon Jones and Dan Henderson *AUDIO*“.

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