WITH JUST SIX DAYS OUT FROM ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED UFC FIGHTS EVER, JON JONES AND DANIEL CORMIER GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.
UFC 182 is just six days away and headliners Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier participated in a telephone conference call today ahead of their light heavyweight title showdown at the MGM Grand this weekend.
The fight, which will see Jones making the eighth defense of his 205 lbs belt against the undefeated Cormier, was already the most eagerly anticipated UFC match currently on the schedule, but this interest intensified after a brawl broke out between the pair at a press event in August.
It was widely reported that Jones had lost a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike as a result of this altercation and this is an issue he was anxious to address on the conference call.
“The truth about the Nike deal is Nike did not drop me because of that fight. The truth is Nike didn’t seem as if they wanted to move forward with MMA, they weren’t activating me in the same way they said they would.
“I’d just finished the second year of my deal and I was getting ready to start my third year of the deal and I said ‘if you guys aren’t too serious about martial arts then I don’t want to be a part of the company and hopefully I can respectfully leave’.”
According to Jones his exit from Nike was already in the works and the brawl with Cormier merely expedited the process.
“So I was supposed to be out anyway and then we got in the brawl and my rep called me and said ‘I know we were going to wait another two years, but since you got in a fight let’s just have you sign this paperwork now and allow you to go your own way’. So the truth of the matter is I did not get dropped by Nike, it was a thing we discussed months before the fight (with Cormier in August).”
Given the bad blood between the two fighters the conference call was much less acrimonious then might have been expected with Cormier and Jones both making similar comments on the subject. The challenger had the following to say.
“(We) are six days away from fighting what’s the point of yelling and screaming at each other anymore? That’s done.
“Before it was all we could do to get to each other because we were so far away from the fight, the fight’s only six days away now there’s no point to that anymore. All the arguing, all the name calling it motivated me in my training (but) it serves no more purpose.”
Cormier did say that ‘the heat’ between them wasn’t going to go away but him and Jones both sounded remarkably similar when discussing the brawl with the reigning UFC 205 lbs champion stating that: “I have to agree right now the fight is here there’s nothing that can be said to change the outcome of this fight.”
“The work is done the camp is over and for me to sit here and be unprofessional and try to insult him and come at him to sell a few more PPVs… I don’t need to.
“There’s a time and a place for everything and all the craziness was appropriate then and it motivated me, and I’m sure it motivated him, to have great camps but now the fight is here.”
Jones and Cormier were both caught trash talking when their microphones were left on after an ESPN segment had finished airing and it caused a lot of controversy. The champion admitted that at first he was concerned about what damage this might do to his carefully cultivated image.
“My image got ruined overnight. I knew when I saw it that it would be a good promotional piece and I thought to myself ‘I can’t believe that they’re using that’ but at the same time the fans are going to love it. A part of me was glad that it came out (because) as a pro athlete, as a champion, as a Christian I always try to be a professional and I do try to carry myself like a person you want to endorse but I’m a real dude.”
Jones also admitted to feeling a certain sense of ‘relief’ that the fans finally got to see a different side of him.
“I’m just me and for me to tell Daniel I will kill him, for me to swear… I’ve made a conscious effort not to swear in an interview in my whole career because I want to have a clean image and I want to be endorsed by the companies I am endorsed by no and so for that hot mike to come out and for people to see that side of me it was kind of a relief because I am a Christian and I do try to carry my image in a certain light because that’s very important for the people I inspire and for endorsements but, at the same time, this is who I am.”
I will swear, I will tell a guy who’s in my face that I’m going to kill him, I would call him the names I called him.
The coverage of the incident did not seem to have affected Cormier to quite the same extent and he accepts that the fighters had only themselves to blame.
“I’m not upset about it, they can only use the things we did or said so if I didn’t do it or I didn’t say it they couldn’t use it. There’s a consequence to any action and my action was being petty and they used it. It got people excited, people want to watch this fight and that’s a big deal.”
The fight was initially scheduled to take place in September but was postponed because Jones suffered an injury in training and Cormier said the change of dates served as an unexpected bonus for him.
“I believe it helped me. I got the call about 90 days before the fight but I had some family stuff I needed to do and I came back and trained with Phil Davis and after three rounds of sparring I actually got tired and I was like ‘I don’t know how I’m going to add these extra 2 rounds over the course of 5 or 6 weeks’ and then Jon got hurt the next day so it was like a sigh of relief.
“Now I’m going to get my title fight under the right circumstances where I get a full training camp, I get to focus on it for many months and give myself the best opportunity to win this fight so for me it’s been a complete blessing, it’s been a great turn of events.”
Jones also acknowledged that the postponement would help his opponent’s chances but stated firmly that he didn’t want to face anyone who wasn’t at the peak of their powers.
“The fight being prolonged works in Daniels favour but one thing I love about this situation is there is no excuse for his performance or for my performance. Everyone who fights against me claims that it’s the best camp of their career and they’re in the best shape of their career and that’s exactly the way I want them. It means everything for my legacy that he has no excuses.”