(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:
The big news out of Las Vegas Monday afternoon was the brawl that broke out at the MGM Grand between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and his challenger in the UFC 178 main event, Daniel Cormier, during the kickoff press conference for the event.
And though this unfortunate incident* lit up social media outlets and message boards around the sports world**, it wasn’t the kind of event that the leading brand in mixed martial arts wants to see.
“This is certainly not a proud moment for the UFC organization,” said Kirk Hendrick***, the UFC’s Chief Legal Officer. “We expect more from our athletes, especially these two gentlemen, who are very well-trained and highly educated professionals. Their actions were clearly a violation of the UFC’s code of conduct.”
The Nevada State Athletic Commission has requested a video copy of the incident****, and the UFC is cooperating fully with them in order to come to a quick resolution when it comes to possible penalties for both fighters. As for penalties from the UFC, Hendrick said, “We are going to reserve our right to penalize both fighters after the commission has made a decision. We expect more from our athletes and we are prepared to levy sanctions to reinforce the appropriate behavior.”*****
Luckily, there were no serious injuries to the fighters or to anyone in attendance****** for the open to the public media day.
“There are going to be ramifications,” he concluded. “Whether you’re the champion, or this is your first fight in the UFC, there are going to be ramifications from the UFC for these actions.”*******
* Make no mistake, press conference brawls are bad…
** …but we killed it on Twitter, bro! High fives!
*** Who the fuck is Kirk Hendrick, and why is he doing Matt Hughes’s job?
**** The same athletic commission that punished Chael Sonnen with a $0.00 fine and a job offer? Great, we can all be confident that justice will be served.
***** Although in terms of fight-promotion, what Jones and Cormier did was the appropriate behavior. New idea: Any time a fighter says “I respect my opponent and I do all my talking in the cage,” he/she shall be fined $1,000 by the UFC.
****** Again, Dave Sholler got shoved off a stage and Heidi Fang ate Cormier’s shoe, but whatever. You already know how I feel about this.
******* Of course, those ramifications would be much, much different if Jones and Cormier were first-time UFC rookies. The fight will go on. Jones and Cormier will keep their jobs, regardless.
Feel free to re-watch the brawl in the video at the top of this post, which the UFC helpfully uploaded to its YouTube channel directly after the incident. But again, this is a disappointing, regrettable, shameful incident, and our fighters are better than that, etc., LOL, $$$.
UFC president Dana White remains in Bora Bora.