Jon Jones has been managed by Malki Kawa of First Round Management for the past 11-years, but the two parties have apparently now come to the amicable decision to part ways.
“After an 11 year journey as [Jon Jones’] management team, First Round Management and Bones have amicably decided to part way,” a statement from the management’s Twitter account reads. “We are proud of him and the work we’ve done. We wish him the best going forward.”
Jones soon followed up with his own response to the post, appearing to stress that there was no bad blood behind the split.
“It’s been an absolutely amazing journey,” Jones wrote. “Thank you so much for all the memories, and business ventures. Wishing the Kawa family and everyone over at first round management many blessings moving forward. Glad to be able to call you guys friends for life.”
Kawa, who has also managed Jones’ two NFL star brothers along with the likes of Demetrious Johnson, Ben Henderson, Frank Mir and more, also released a statement about the decision.
“Sometimes it’s best to just walk away,” Kawa stated on Instagram. “Glad to have repped the p4p best fighter in @jonnybones for the last 11years. No this had nothing to do with his Ngannou negotiations. Jon has been handling that negotiation on his own and has been as he wanted to speak for himself when it came to the last few fights, so no, sorry fans, you can’t blame me. We all agreed it was just best to start over. @abraham and I are working on a lot of major things at #frm and sometimes you just have to know when to say when.”
Despite Kawa’s denial that this has anythign to do with Jones appearing to have hit a brick wall in terms of his massive pay demands in order to secure a superfight for the ages against heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, it’s still hard to ignore the elephant in the room.
Consider for instance that just days ago Jones had publicly questioned where Dana White had got the information about Jones wanting $30 million to fight Ngannou.
“I never discussed wanting 30 million with you or Hunter @danawhite,” Jones responded after hearing White mention the number during Saturday’s UFC 261 post-fight presser. “Just wondering where you heard that number? Is someone speaking with you on my behalf or…”
Meanwhile, less than a week ago, Chael Sonnen, an old rival of Jones, also appeared to cast shade at Jones management on his YouTube channel when he questioned the advice that the former light-heavyweight champion was getting in relation to the Ngannou negotiations.
“The advice that Jon is given is poor at best,” Sonnen said. “I know a lot of the people around him, I’m really not looking to take a shot at him, I simply see it from the outside, and I just go, ‘Man, there’s no one watching the shop, they simply don’t know what’s going on here.”
On the other hand, it has to be said that Jones and Kawa’s 11-years in business together was a hell of a ride, going from the highest-of-highs to the lowest-of-lows, and that it held firm even during the darkest times when ‘Bones’ ran into trouble with the police, USADA, and had his title stripped from him on more than one occasion.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see whether the management split will now make it more or less likely that the negotiations for the Jones vs. Ngannou negotiations will bear fruit.