Tai Tuivasa is a fan of Jon Jones. Really.
It might be hard to tell given the brief exchange the two had on social media a few weeks ago, but Tuivasa has plenty of praise for the three-time UFC light heavyweight titleholder and soon-to-be heavyweight contender.
During an appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday ahead of his main event clash with Ciryl Gane at UFC Paris, Tuivasa explained how he and Jones ended up exchanging direct messages this past July.
“He messaged me actually, which was pretty funny,” Tuivasa said. “I must have said I’ll fight him [in an interview] and he’s going, like, ‘Keep winning, you’ll get your wish’ or something.
“I don’t know if he was trying to scare me or turn me on, but it did kind of both.”
While Tuivasa’s conversation with Jones proved to be uneventful, the Australian’s ascent up the heavyweight ladder — he is currently No. 5 in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings — has placed him in the thick of the title picture. If Jones is serious about adding to his legacy with a legitimate run at heavyweight, it’s within the realm of possibility that he and Tuivasa eventually cross paths.
Tuivasa is thrilled at the prospect of a potential meeting with Jones, even if he doesn’t think much of him personally.
“I’ve said it many times before and I stand by what I said, I think Jon Jones is the best fighter to ever fight,” Tuivasa said. “Just how he fights. How he fights, he is probably the best fighter to ever step foot in the cage.
“But is he a d***head? Yes, I think he’s a d***head. And will I fight him? Yes. Will he fight me? I think he would because he’s fought everyone and anyone. He’s one of the greatest to do it, but I’d love to fight him. Not for anything else, just for the same reason I like to fight all these people who have made names.”
Jones’ outside-of-the-cage failures — including a hit-and-run conviction that caused him to be stripped of a UFC title in 2014, a failed drug test that cost him another title run in 2017, and an arrest in Las Vegas after a domestic incident from earlier this year — have permanently dented his reputation, but he remains one of the most accomplished athletes in MMA history. “Bones” only has one loss in 28 pro bouts, a 2009 disqualification against Matt Hamill.
No fighter has ever actually defeated Jones in competition, but Tuivasa thinks he could be the first to not only beat Jones, but knock him out.
“Win or lose, I’ll go in there and have a swack,” Tuivasa said. “If I dink him, I sink him. Dink him, I sink him. That’s fair dinkum, you know what I mean?”