(The UFC is shocked and appalled by the number of views this video is getting. [tee hee!] Props: YouTube.com/UFC)
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about yesterday’s Jon Jones/Daniel Cormier media day brawl, and my basic feeling is this: While I’m sure that the incident wasn’t “staged” in the sense that it was planned or rehearsed beforehand, it’s an inevitable result of the unique situation that these superstar fighters find themselves in. Basically, this is what happens when two alpha males who genuinely dislike each other have absolutely no financial incentive to behave themselves.
Jones and Cormier have been around the game long enough to understand that a wild melee at a press appearance generates the kind of heat that will draw more interest to their fight. Considering that Jones is a UFC champion who gets a cut of his fights’ pay-per-view revenue, this sort of thing directly puts money in his pocket, as it creates more buyers for the product. Whatever fines the NSAC decides to levy upon them will be more than offset by the increase in cash — directly or indirectly — that Jones and Cormier will see because of this incident.
And besides, we’re not talking about a mid-level roster dweller who the UFC can easily cut loose to make a point that unprofessional behavior won’t be tolerated. Jones and Cormier run zero risk of losing their jobs or getting suspended. Their light-heavyweight title fight is already scheduled to headline a gigantic PPV in Las Vegas less than two months from now, and Nevada would lose out on a truckload of money if the fight was canceled. Do you really think the NSAC would shoot itself in the foot by jeopardizing that? In this particular situation, Jones and Cormier were untouchable — and deep down, I think they knew that.
This, of course, puts the UFC in a tricky position. When two of its most elite fighters are caught on camera throwing hands at a casino — knocking over a poor, defenseless PR stiff in the process, and hitting a lady in the face with a shoe — it makes the promotion look really bad. And yet, in 20 seconds, Jones and Cormier just promoted their fight better than any amount of generic video promos and late-night talk show appearances ever could.
On that note, here’s the closest thing to an official statement that the UFC has released so far, which was posted yesterday on UFC.com: