Here is my exclusive interview with Jon
MMAUK: You had a High School wrestling background, but how did you end up in MMA?
Jon: My assistant wrestling coach at Purdue University was Tom “Big Cat” Erikson. I watched some of his fights and got to train with him, Mark Coleman and Gary Goodridge when they came to town. The stories they told and the money they made were very appealing to me. I was studying to be a teacher and these guys would make more in one fight than a teacher would in a year. I also love to compete and wasn’t ready to give up competition yet at graduation time. Tom helped me get my first fight.
MMAUK: Something I find interesting is that your first few fights you actually fought at Light Heavyweight, why was that when you are better known as a Welterweight, over 2 stone lighter?
Jon: I started out at Light Heavy because I didn’t really know what I was doing. The sport was new and not a lot of info on what to do or how to do it. I had something like 6 fights before I ever sparred a round. Birth by fire so to speak. As I started training full-time out in Cali my natural weight came down and WW seemed possible.
MMAUK: How tough in the early days was it making ends meet financially?
Jon: It is STILL tough making ends meet. The system is rigged in favor of the promoters. Unlike in boxing where fighters get a higher % of the gross revenue.
MMAUK: After trying out for the very first Ultimate Fighter and not quite making it, you eventually ended up in the UFC and earned a crack at GSP for the UFC Welterweight Title. How did you find the whole experience and have you any regrets from the fight?
Jon: There is no measurable merit system in MMA so it was very difficult. Winning doesn’t guarantee you anything and excitement isn’t measured in any merit based way. Getting the title shot was hard-earned and I gave Georges everything I had that night. My defense wasn’t were it needed to be to win that fight and I got caught with 2 big right hands. I fixed the wholes in my game and I’m confident I would beat him in a rematch.
MMAUK: You were controversially released from the UFC despite only losing two of your next 9 fights. Your losses were to elite guys in Maia and Hendricks and you were still a Top 5 fighter, did it come as a surprise and how did you feel about the decision to release you?
Jon: It was not a surprise. The UFC had been trying to get rid of me for a while. Joe Silva even told my management during a contract negotiation that they would cut me the second I lost and resign me for half the money they were paying me. So I knew it was coming, I thought it was gonna come after the Hendricks fight. They instead tried to set me up for another loss vs Eric Silva in Brazil. I threw a big wrench into their plans with a fight of the night victory.
MMAUK: You are still fighting, for people who don’t know who are you currently fighting for and would you one want to be back in the UFC or even Bellator?
Jon: I’m currently signed with PFL. They were originally the WSOF and I was their champ. I was stripped of my title because they wanted to rebrand. For the future I have been lobbying congress to get the Ali Act expanded so that it will provide MMA fighters with the same protections that boxers already have. That way promoters will have to co-promote and the titles will be controlled by sanctioning bodies, like every other legitimate professional sport.
MMAUK: What’s your career high and low point?
Jon: Career high points are many. The stand outs are the GSP Fight, The Eric Silva Fight, winning a World title and defending that title vs Jake Shields. Career low point was rationalizing the use of testosterone and getting popped. Very low point in my life.
MMAUK: If you could change one thing in MMA what would it be?
Jon: If I could only change one thing it would be to separate the titles and rankings away from promoters. That would remove a major conflict of interest that would help make MMA a real sport.
Thank you so much for your time Jon, and good luck for the future, I am sure there are a few chapters left in your story.