UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones and title-challenger Daniel Cormier got into a brawl at a press conference Monday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The two were doing a traditional staredown photo op when Jones pressed his forehead against Cormier’s forehead, this led to Cormier pushing Jones, and then the champ fired back with a punch. Both fighters, a slew of media personnel, UFC officials and bystanders were all caught in the middle of the melee. It was not pretty.
The press conference was to help promote Jones and Cormier’s upcoming UFC 178 main event title bout set to take place Sept. 27 at the same venue. However, this is not the kind of attention the UFC was hoping to attain and the Nevada State Athletic Commission is currently investigating the incident and could levy penalties against both fighters.
Kirk Hendrick, the UFC’s Chief Legal Officer commented:
“This is certainly not a proud moment for the UFC organization. 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. … 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. … There are going to be ramifications. 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.”
The incident did do one thing. It got more people excited for this fight than it would have ever gotten had the press conference brawl not happened. Main stream news sources such as HLN (CNN) and ESPN were reporting on the altercation and showing the video of what happened.
The down side is that the UFC has long been trying to educate the public that these are professional athletes and not thugs. When you’re trying to attract blue chip sponsors and still get the sport regulated in New York, incidents such as this can only harm. However, every true fight fan knows backstories and a little pre-fight heat only makes you want to see the bout that much more. And if you were so-so about Jones vs. Cormier before this, it’s quite likely they now have your full attention.
UFC 178 Media Day: Jones and Cormier Brawl