Well, that escalated quickly.
Light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and No. 1 contender Daniel Cormier didn’t waste any time with pleasantries at Monday’s UFC 178 media day, as the two fighters exchanged punches in a wild on-stage scrap at the MGM Grand.
In Las Vegas to promote the Sept. 27 title fight, Jones and Cormier approached each other mid-stage for what was supposed to be an eye-to-eye stare down for photographers.
It didn’t last long.
When Jones pushed his forehead into Cormier’s face, the former Strikeforce champion responded with a firm shove and things spiralled out of control from there. Jones threw a wild left hand before the fighters crashed through a promotional banner and were swarmed by security. Both fighters could be seen throwing punches from the floor.
There is no word on whether the UFC will hand out punishment to either fighter, but earlier in the day both Cormier and Jones spoke with QMI Agency about their growing feud.
“I think people understand that the things we’re saying to each other are real, this is not made up,” Cormier said. “This is not fake, this is real, and I think people can sense it.”
The incident is just the latest development in the quickly growing bad-blood between the two fighters. Just last week, Jones posted a photo to Instagram of a cut above his left eye, and Cormier responded by tweeting that he’d be targeting the gash when they entered the octagon.
“Why would you put that out there?” Cormier said. “There’s just no regard for me hitting him there and no worry that I could get him in a position where I could hit him there.
“Any time you have anything that can be seen as a weakness, you try to keep it quiet, but I guess that’s in our world and not his.”
The rising tensions come as a bit of a surprise given that it wasn’t all that long ago that Jones was saying Cormier deserved a title shot instead of Swedish fighter Alexander Gustafsson, who had to withdraw from the fight -- which was originally scheduled for Toronto -- due to injury.
Any mutual respect seems to be gone now, and Jones said Monday that he hoped Cormier was struggling to adjust to the bright spotlight that comes with fighting for the UFC championship against one of the sport’s biggest stars.
That spotlight is sure to get even brighter after Monday’s brawl.
“For Daniel Cormier, this is his first title fight in the UFC and this is my eighth, so I know how it goes and I know how it feels going through the media leading up to the fight,” Jones said. “This is my comfort zone. I’m comfortable on this platform and this pedestal and I hope it is overwhelming for him. That could be an advantage for me.”
Through social media, both fighters lobbed shots at one another after the melee, with Jones tweeting “Come on DC where was your takedown defense” and “I put you on your back in six seconds.”
Cormier responded with “I got some td def for you. Don’t ever put ur dirty face on me again.”
More social media trash talk from the two fighters:
I put you on your back in six seconds— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 4, 2014
I won't let another man get in my face and put his forehead against mine. I will react every time. @JonnyBones next time I will slap you.— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) August 4, 2014
Put some ice on that face DC, you got lots of interviews tomorrow— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 4, 2014
Lol those baby punches from the bottom, I really hope you have more prepared than that for when I take you down again— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) August 4, 2014