Anthony Smith backs Jon Jones keeping heavyweight title: ‘Jon Jones can do whatever the f*** he wants’
Jon Jones won’t be surrendering his UFC heavyweight title while he’s recovering from injury, and he sent a not so subtle reminder to interim champion Tom Aspinall why he’s earned that right after establishing himself as one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.
UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith may not always agree with everything that Jones says or does, but he also backs his former opponent when it comes to the conversation about remaining champion after suffering a torn pectoral muscle that kept him out of his recently scheduled bout against Stipe Miocic. Even after Aspinall was crowned interim champion in his absence, Jones is still expected to return for that fight with Miocic sometime in 2024.
While Aspinall called for the title to be stripped, Smith vehemently disagrees while pointing out the grace period that Jones has earned through a career spent fighting the best of the best and leaving a pile of broken contenders in his wake.
“You all know how I feel about Jon Jones,” Smith said during UFC Vegas 83 media day. “I hate when you guys ask me questions where I have to say nice things about him. Jon Jones can do whatever the f*** he wants. Really. He’s earned that.
“He’s not been known as a guy that pulls out of fights. For whatever anybody says about him, he’s never strayed from a challenge. He’s always taken on the next best guy. I think in terms of him and Stipe, I think both those guys should be able to do whatever they want. I think that they’ve earned it. I think they deserve it.”
After Jones suffered the injury that knocked him out of UFC 295 in November, Miocic wasn’t even offered the chance to fight Aspinall or Sergei Pavlovich because UFC CEO Dana White felt like it would be disrespectful to his status as arguably the greatest heavyweight in the promotion’s history.
Instead, White opted to keep Miocic sidelined until Jones is healthy again so they can battle it out sometime next year with the UFC title on the line.
As much as that may irritate some fighters — including Aspinall — Smith knows that Jones vs. Miocic is the kind of matchup that needs to happen no matter how many feelings may get hurt in the process.
“Do we really want to miss another super fight?” Smith said. “How long did we talk about Anderson Silva and [Georges St-Pierre]? Anderson and Jon Jones and Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and whoever.
“We’ve done this back and forth, we want all these super fights and now we have the opportunity for one and everyone’s calling for Jon to get stripped of his title. Let’s not f*** this one up. Let’s just let him heal up.”
Smith understands the absurdity that Jones will return to fight Miocic while Aspinall still holds onto the interim title but that just speaks to the gravity surrounding that particular matchup.
In the meantime, Aspinall can stay busy fighting other contenders until Jones and Miocic settle their business once and for all.
“I know it makes absolutely no sense for there to be an interim champion and Jon to defend against someone who’s not but we’re not like other sports,” Smith explained. “We can kind of change the rules sometimes and just give the fans and the people what they want.”