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Jon Jones tells Dana White to ‘spend a little to make a lot’ — How much is the Ngannou fight worth?

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How much would a Francis Ngannou vs Jon Jones title bout generate? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Instead of building up what would be a massive super-fight between a light heavyweight legend and the new UFC heavyweight champion, Jon Jones has called out Dana White for doing the opposite of his job as a promoter.

Shortly after UFC 260, White immediately invoked his trademark “he doesn’t want to fight” line for fighters trying to get paid better. The UFC President questioned the all-time great’s character, and said that Jones would probably be better off dropping down to 185 lbs than facing Francis Ngannou.

Jones of course, didn’t like hearing about this, and has responded in kind on social media.

“What a great way to promote the fight. Let’s just shit on Jon Jones and make him seem afraid. How dare he ask to get paid serious money for a serious fight,” Jones responded via Instagram.

White also noted that a rematch with Derrick Lewis is actually the fight to make despite their historically bad first meeting, and Jones vs Ngannou likely to draw significantly more.

Jones responded by saying that he believes that even with a much deserved raise, everyone involved would be set to make a lot more money in this fight.

There’s also this exchange between Jones and his former rival in Chael Sonnen, with the fighter-turned-broadcaster toeing the company line:

Jones seemed baffled with the logic in White’s statements. What he’s missing though is that this has always been more about control than earning more in one event, with the UFC’s desire to keep their brand bigger than the fighters themselves. They would certainly earn a lot more by booking Jones-Ngannou even after giving Jones a raise, but “giving in” to him could open up even more fighters demanding for better pay.

Giving the title bout to Lewis or other far cheaper alternatives would help towards UFC’s old targets of giving just 17% of the revenue to the fighters. They’re also set to make bank either way, with the ESPN deal guaranteeing around $20 million for a PPV event regardless of the headliner.

So how much would this fight actually be worth to the UFC? Based on UFC’s financial documents, we’ve computed that Jones previously brought in “approximately $14 million additional revenue per event” on his light heavyweight title bouts compared to your normal UFC PPV. This Ngannou super-fight is guaranteed to be bigger than his typical title defense though, so here’s a financial breakdown about the possible scenarios:

It’s a very good possibility that the heavyweight super-fight draws better numbers than Gaethje vs Ferguson. If it draws around 850,000 buys — the same estimate as the comparison they brought up in Fury vs Wilder 2 — then we could be looking at an additional $27 million in residential PPV money.

If Jones vs Ngannou ended up being a blockbuster, like the reported 1.1 million buys for UFC 246’s McGregor vs Cerrone, then we could be talking about an additional $37 million in residential PPV in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.

Jones has brought in a significant amount of revenue for the UFC through the years — about $108 million above the UFC’s floor in 2012-2017 alone — but how much does he actually make now? After a decade at the top of the sport, Jones claims he gets $5+ million per fight after his last contract dispute with the UFC, but we also know he made significantly less on his earlier title fights.

He isn’t likely to receive even close to the potential money he will generate here, but will he get even a slight increase to get the fight booked? Jones says he’s still keeping his hopes up.