We acted like its some sort of shocking and unexpected turn of events when UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier got in to a brawl at a media event for UFC 178. From punishment being wrought upon the two fighters via the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), to the UFC reprimanding them (cancel the fight?), the MMA world was abuzz with speculations and rumors about what really took place during their brawl, whether or not it was staged, and what would come of the brawl that resulted in little more than pundits losing their collective minds on social media, and a heaping helping of hype for a fight that already carried a ton of hype with a veneer of mystique.
The punishment for the fighters was the focal point, at least for myself, as no promotion in their right mind would penalize these fighters past a slap on the wrist. If you fine them, you can risk a rift if uneven punishments are accrued, or you may alienate and sedate fighters who still have almost two months of preparation. The UFC wants these two to hate one another up until at least the date of their fight to truly capitalize on their promotional efforts.
If you’re the NSAC, you’re already getting your money’s worth with the fight itself. With a card like UFC 178, that arena will be sold out, and not just in the way Mike Goldberg or Bruce Buffer claim when on the live broadcast. Now that one of the most infamous fights has happened in the lobby of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, fans will flock for anything with ‘Jones’ or ‘Cormier’ in the title of that particular promotional event.
Then came the reaction from fighters and UFC brass.
Former welterweight champion and current UFC employee Matt Hughes took to Twitter to denounce the fight as being bad for the sport while he has taken to calling transgender fighter, Fallon Fox, an ‘it’ because he either doesn’t understand what transgender means, or ignorance bore through at a time when a spotlight was one him. Whether or not you agree with Fox’s decision that she is fighting in a women’s division as a former man, isn’t the point. Consciously calling someone a clearly insensitive slur, however, is bad for any sport.
UFC president Dana White also took time out of his vacation in Bora Bora to tweet that the Jones/Cormier brawl was ‘perfect’ in a sarcastic statement, as if he has to personally handle this situation. The brawl will fill the UFC’s pockets and I have nothing wrong with that, but don’t feign outrage for something that is quite good for business.
Injury was the extenuating circumstance when it came to the fallout from this incident. If someone such as the UFC’s own Dave Sholler or a member of the MGM security staff had been injured enough to need medical attention, then Jones and Cormier would be staring down the barrel of a personal injury lawyer’s wrath.
Luckily for all involved, no one was reported as being injured in the brawl and life goes on. For those still fixated on this brief, clash of egos, just remember, these men are fighters. As I stated on Twitter, the MLB faces several bench clearing fights each season with little to no discipline doled out and those are on national television during their first and live airing coupled with the fact that baseball is a sport where men hit a small ball with a specially shaped wooden stick. There sport has nothing to do with fighting one another and they still get all worked up that the guy from another city aims the ball at their players.
For fighters, the 3-4 months that they spend in dedicated training camps for their next opponent is some of the mot grueling experiences in their respective lives, as they sacrifice their bodies and mind in an effort to become a better athlete and fighter to vanquish their opponents come the night of the fight. Their minds are set to destroy one other man or women somewhere else on the planet so some animosity, especially at the championship level between two noted rivals, may sometimes spill over in to a physical confrontation.
UFC 178 will be a great card. Even if every fight is boring and paced, the amount of absolute high-level talent will still make virtually every fight significant enough to be a joy to watch. As for the main event, all the pieces are already in place and each new media event will only add fuel to the fire as I suspect Jones and Cormier won’t make amends until after the fight, if at all.