Although the news of their split recently came out, Malki Kawa said it’s been a long time since he has spoken to Jon Jones.
In April, Kawa’s agency, First Round Management, put out a statement that it amicably parted ways with the former UFC light heavyweight king, who hired former Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer as his new advisor this past month.
The announcement came during the heat of Jones’ public negotiations for a potential superfight with UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou that has yet to come to fruition. Jones got in a spat with Dana White over increased pay and Kawa said he and his brother Abraham Kawa have had nothing to do with the process.
Speaking to MMA Junkie, Kawa reflected on his 11 years with Jones, which included a slew of legal issues that he was by his side for.
“My time with Jon Jones was great,” Kawa said. “I thought I did a hell of a job with Jon – I know that I did. I got put in a lot of bad situations as a lot of you guys already know. I stood by him. I did everything that I think a manager should do. I haven’t spoken to Jon in the last three years, so everybody thinks this split went like this and that – it’s not what everybody thinks. I had nothing to do with the Ngannou and Jones negotiations.
“That was all Jon. Not me nor my brother got involved – not anything like that. We’ve been helping him with his marketing. We continued to help him with his marketing. We still do a lot of marketing stuff for him. I know he hired Richard Schaefer, who has no idea how the UFC or Dana White or anybody works – and listen, I wish him luck. That’s my boy. I love him to death, but we don’t talk. I don’t have no ill will toward him.”
Kawa may have lost a client in one of the greatest fighters of all time, but he still represents an array of MMA stars, such as Jorge Masvidal, Tyron Woodley, Paige VanZant, Yair Rodriguez and Derrick Lewis, who wound up getting the heavyweight title shot instead.
“Listen, you see what I do,” Kawa said. “At the end of the day, I get fights done. Yair Rodriguez was a guy they couldn’t get into a fight for a long time. They wanted him to fight Zabit (Magomedsharipov). He said he’ll fight Zabit, then Zabit can’t fight. Boom – then they offered Max Holloway. (I) went and got that fight done. Yair Rodriguez (is) getting taken care of real good for this fight. I just feel the work we do speaks for itself, and if you ask any of my clients, pound for pound, they’re the highest paid in their division almost all across the board.
“Go ask Derrick Lewis. Go ask Lauren Murphy. Go ask all these clients of ours that have been with us for years or some time or came from another agency. Like, hey, no – this really is what happened. When you’ve got guys that are champions that are fighting for less money than my clients, what does that tell you at the end of the day? When my guys are making three or four times more than the champ, that’s crazy.
“The Jones split was what it was. I made terms with it years ago. He’s my boy. If he called me tomorrow, I’ll still answer the phone. I have no ill will toward him, nothing like that. It just is what it is. Eleven years, we were with him – it’s a long time. Sometimes you just need something fresh, and if Richard Schaefer can get it done, I’ll be the happiest one for him. But we represent Derrick Lewis.”