Under normal circumstances, the headline “Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier engage in wild fight” would make UFC brass very happy.
Unfortunately, those “normal circumstances” involve said fight happening live on Pay-Per-View – and not at a pre-fight media event.
But that’s exactly what happened Monday at the MGM Grand when a UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) press conference ended in a wild brawl.
UFC Light-Heavyweight champion Jon Jones and challenger Daniel Cormier were on hand to promote their upcoming world title fight in Las Vegas on September 27.
The formula for these type of events is simple: following questions from the media, champion and challenger generally pose for a “face-to-face” photo op for the gathered cameras.
It’s tough to determine exactly where the event went off the rails, but Cormier evidently didn’t like Jones’ proximity during their faceoff, forcefully shoving him backwards.
That set off Jones, who responded by lunging back at Cormier.
Caught in the fray was UFC Director of Communications Dave Sholler, who tried desperately to separate two men.
Unfortunately for him, Sholler was swatted aside with ease by the 6’4, 220-pound plus UFC champion, and sent tumbling into the banner behind the stage with enough force to send the whole thing crashing down.
Jones then tore into Cormier, with both men throwing punches and falling to the floor as security tried to separate the two men.
Speaking to ESPN shortly after the brawl, Jones apologized for the incident, but said his actions were justified.
“I’ve never had a fighter but his hands on me while squeezing my throat,” Jones said. “I reacted in self-defence by beating up Daniel.”
Cormier, who openly snickered throughout the champion’s remarks, accused Jon of instigating the fight and of being insincere in his apology.
“Hey I’m glad he apologized, and I apologize for our actions, but it’s so fake,” Cormier said. “Jon Jones is a fake individual and a fake person.”
Jones (20-1) is the most dominant champion in Mixed Martial arts today. He is currently riding an 11-fight winning streak, including nine straight victories in world title fights.
But the undefeated Cormier (15-0) may be his toughest test to date. An elite amateur wrestler, Cormier has been a member of two US Olympic wrestling teams, as well as winning two gold medals in freestyle wrestling at the Pan Am games.
The two men have taken plenty of shots at each other over social media and in interviews in recent days, since it was announced Cormier would be stepping in for the injured Alexander Gustafsson as Jones’ next title challenger.
And it didn’t stop post-brawl either, with both men continuing the trash talk on Twitter.
Lost in all the hubbub was the usually-vocal UFC President Dana White, who happened to be taking the first day of his vacation Monday when the brawl took place.
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