(The faces of pure evil?? / Photo via UFC.com)
If you were looking for a reason — any reason at all — to hate on Jon Jones following his submission victory over Lyoto Machida at UFC 140, that post-fight video which showed trainer Greg Jackson yelling for Jon to “go check on Lyoto, get some fans” probably did the trick. It was a candid moment that called into question Jones and Jackson’s reputations for sportsmanship and Bushido-like respect. Was it all just an act to appear likable? Did they have any genuine concern for Machida’s health whatsoever?
Obviously, Greg Jackson is embarrassed by how he came off, and tried to explain his words in an interview with MMAJunkie:
“I shouldn’t have spoken in that way, but that wasn’t my intention. It sounded bad, but moronic [expletive] comes out of my mouth sometimes. What I was saying was, ‘Go check on Lyoto,’ what I meant was to remember that you’re a public figure. There’s always attention on you and what you’re doing all the time, and there’s cage etiquette. There’s things you’re supposed to do, and going and checking on somebody is what you’re supposed to do. And now because I’m in military mode and in shorthand mode, I say, ‘Jon, go check on Lyoto and go get some fans,’ and what I should have said was, ‘You’re a public figure. There’s a way to conduct yourself.’ But instead, I shorthanded it.”
Okay. Not sure how “conduct yourself like a public figure” becomes “get some fans” in Jackson’s mental shorthand, but either way it’s good advice, especially when you’re fighting in front of a crowd that seems to hate you. The question is, why would Jones need to be reminded? Jackson has an answer for that too:
“Jon is a really good guy. Everybody is just attacking his character because that’s what you have to attack when you can’t attack somebody’s fighting. It’s not that he was a bad guy. You just literally go crazy. None of these guys outside of the cage could understand that after the fight, you’re in the zone, man. It’s such an intense camp, especially for Jon, month after month, fight after fight.
“Let’s take B.J. Penn for an example. He’s actually a really nice guy; he walks around licking blood off his gloves all the time. Chuck Liddell is one of the sweetest, nicest guys you’ll ever meet, but when he knocks you unconscious, he runs around screaming and pumping his arms. That’s not normal behavior. So my job with Jon is to remind him. When the referee said break, he broke, and then he was still there in that zone. I was like, ‘Now, it’s time to relax and calm down and check on the guy.’ I should have said, ‘Remember you’re a public figure.’ But like I say, ‘Go get some Donald Cerrone,’ I said, ‘Go get some fans.’”
Checking on your fallen opponent is one of the unwritten traditions of MMA, but when you’re in the midst of celebrating a major triumph, it might not always feel natural to get down off the cage, put on a concerned face, and pat the other guy on the shoulder as he’s waking up from his nap. It’s a ritual, and not always a sincere one. And fans don’t like to be reminded of that.
So here’s a hypothetical question. What if Jon Jones and Greg Jackson really didn’t care that Lyoto Machida was sitting on a stool with a deep gash in his forehead, foggy from being choked out, and emotionally devastated from the loss: Does that change the way you already felt about them?