There he was, fighting Daniel Cormier in the lobby of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. And then he appeared again, calling Cormier a "p*ssy" and telling him he'd literally kill him on camera during a heated exchange he believed was not being recorded.
Wasn't that the press conference brawl that got Jones and Cormier disciplined by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) and denounced by the UFC? Wasn't it embarrassing that profane hot mic footage was "leaked?"
Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champion, was unhappy both were being used for marketing purposes. But he wasn't shocked, either, pointing back to his decision not to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice at UFC 151 and UFC president Dana White burying him publicly for the event being canceled.
"It's just the UFC," Jones said on a media conference call Monday. "UFC 151 got cancelled and instantly my image got ruined overnight. That taught me a lot -- it really did -- about the UFC. So, them using that to promote fights, it doesn't surprise me. I'm just gonna go with it. It's what I said, it's my quotes and I'll live with it."
After a few weeks to think about it, Jones is actually somewhat happy that footage of him and Cormier was widely circulated. Jones felt like it showed fans a different side of him -- the person he is when the camera isn't rolling (even if that time it was).
"For that hot mic to come out and for people to see that side of me, it was kind of a relief," Jones said. "Because it's like, you know what? I am a Christian and I do try to carry my image in a certain light, because I think it's 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 told me he would spit in my face that I would kill him. I would call him the names I called him. It was a bad hit in a way, but also relieving that people could see, 'Whoa, Jones has a little ratchetness in him.' They finally got to see that."
Jones, who meets Cormier at UFC 182 on Saturday night in Las Vegas, said he has made a conscious effort not to swear during his career with an eye toward endorsements and being a role model. Jones admits that he has taken measures to protect his brand in that way.
"As a professional athlete, as a champion, as a Christian and as a person who's not close to being perfect, I always try to be a professional and that's why I have so many great endorsements, because I do carry myself like a person they would want to endorse," Jones said. "But me, with my friends and family, I'm a real dude. I am just me."
Jones, 27, is now "grateful" that another part of him was shown to the world. While Jones is extremely conscious about what other people think of him, it seems like that is eroding with every fight. Jones has grown tired of trying to please fans who don't seem to want to be pleased, the haters who come at him with vitriol on social media.
"It's like so dumb," Jones said. "It's like, 'Dude, you're fake.' I've been hearing that I'm fake for so many years, it's like OK. Who cares if I'm fake? I win fights and that's what I'm here to do. I'm not here to win you over [with] my personality. I'm here to fight. That's ultimately my job."
He'll do that Saturday against Cormier. It could be his toughest challenge yet, but for the most part Jones had made things look easy. He was the youngest champion in UFC history and has defended the light heavyweight title more times (seven) than anyone in history. If he does it three more times, he'll tie Anderson Silva's record of 10 consecutive title defenses.
Jones also stands to make a windfall from this fight with Cormier. Their hatred of each other is organic. There's nothing fake about it. The money both are going to make is pretty real as well, which is perhaps another reason why Jones isn't so upset anymore about that footage being put out there by the UFC.
"When I saw it, right away I did know it would be a good promotional piece," Jones said. "I thought, 'Wow I can't believe they used that.' But at the same time, I was like, 'Dude fans are gonna eat this up. They're gonna love it.' And a part of me was kind of glad it came out."