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Jon Jones angers big fan in Tito Ortiz

ESPN staff
September 7, 2012 « Murray hoping to fly out of the blocks against Berdych | Chartbeat test »

Jon Jones has lost arguably his No. 1 fan in Tito Ortiz as the UFC light-heavyweight's reputation continues to hit the rocks following his decision to reject a fight at UFC 151.

Jones has been roundly criticised for his decision to turn down a clash with Chael Sonnen on eight days' notice - leading to the cancellation of the card. President Dana White spoke of his displeasure with the youngster, who was likened to former champ Ortiz - another to have had a high profile fallout with the UFC boss.

Ortiz had always spoken extremely highly of Jones, labelling him a "phenomenal athlete" while tipping him to rule the sport for the foreseeable future. Jones is closing in on Tito's record for light-heavyweight title defences, and Ortiz says a fantasy fight between the pair would be like Muhammad Ali fighting Mike Tyson.

However, after hearing that Jones had spoken ill of Ortiz's motives in the sport, the veteran's opinion has changed somewhat. Defending his many political battles with the UFC as mere attempts to get fighters to be paid what they deserve, Ortiz insists Jones needs to remember those who carved the path for him to follow.

"All of the fighters said he isn't a true fighter and nobody has ever done this (reject a fight) before and, it's crazy, I thought it was crazy," Ortiz told MMA Weekly. "And I stood up for the kid. I like Jon Jones. I think he's a great champion. I think he's a great guy. I've hung out with him in Vegas and I really took a liking to the kid because he's, I think he's the next best great thing.

"Then, all of a sudden, I heard an interview from him saying, 'People need to stop comparing me to Tito Ortiz because I don't talk about money.' That was like a stab to my back. I stood up for you when no-one else did, I stood up for you and you turn around and say something like that?

"You have to understand, when you drive around in your Bentley, or, I don't know if he even has it anymore since he wrecked it into a tree, but when you're driving around in your Bentley, you have to understand, I'm the person who put my life on the line and my career and my image and my name on the line to take everything I did to battle for the type of contracts that you have, for the money that you're making.

"If it wasn't for the things I've battled for and I took all the bad image because of it, you'd be driving around in a Toyota right now. Fighters need to understand and respect guys on my level that I took a lot of flak to negotiate and battle for what I believed in."

Jones is expected to face a severe backlash when he steps in front of the MMA public on September 22 to fight Vitor Belfort, a bout that was hastily arranged due to the UFC 151 cancellation. The fact that even loyal backers like Ortiz are now turning on the champion suggests he is in for a rough night in Toronto, Canada.

"For him to say the things he's saying that, 'I'm not like Tito Ortiz because I don't talk about money', don't disrespect me like that man, I've had your back when no-one else did," Ortiz said. "I was just disappointed. I was very, very disappointed with Jon.

"Maybe he is just young, maybe he is just 22 or 23-years-old and he doesn't know, maybe the stardom is getting to his head. Like I said, I took a liking to Jon Jones, but I was just disappointed in that interview I read. That's all I've got to say about that."

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