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Fightweets: Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, and the week that was

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Esther Lin

Well, then. This week was already going down as one of the most memorable non-fight weeks we'll ever experience in this game, as the long-simmering beef between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and undefeated challenger Daniel Cormier finally exploded out into the mainstream. The two brawled on Monday, then continued sniping at one another well into the week.

A fight that had already figured to draw a fair bit of interest surged into one of the most anticipated grudge matches in UFC history, one which has a real chance of cracking the million pay-per-view buy mark, something no one would have anticipated even a week ago.

And that was before Friday afternoon, when a video appeared online of Jones and Cormier trading bitter barbs on what they believed to be off-camera after their split-screen appearance on ESPN's SportsCenter on Monday. Among other things, Cormier expressed his desire to spit on Jones, and Jones responded by telling Cormier he would kill him if he did so.

Now, the timing of this was certainly fortuitous, as it hit the internet on the day tickets were going on sale for UFC 178 at the MGM Grand, and appeared, with edits, courtesy the UFC's satellite feed.

And if it was a leak orchestrated by the UFC? Well, good for them. It kept the company's hottest fight in years in the news, and gave a behind-the-scenes glimpse at just how deep the real antipathy runs between the two fighters in a way that no canned television segment could ever portray.

To think, there's still seven weeks left until the fight. Somehow I can't see Demetrious Johnson and Chris Cariaso talking this way about each other leading up to UFC 177. With plenty to discuss, let's get into another edition of Fightweets,

Jones a phony?

@lancecote: Which Bones is the real Bones? The kind, humble one, or the death threat giving one?

Funny you should ask. I actually asked this of the champ one-on-one backstage before the UFC 178 fan Q&A in Los Angeles on Tuesday. OK, not in those exact words, but I did ask about the charges of phoniness which have long dogged him and which have only been amplified in the wake of this week's events.

"I think it is interesting when people call you fake when they don't know you personally," Jones said. "I think all of us as human beings, we have many sides of us, many aspects to our personalities. You know, you can be angry sometimes, you can be happy sometimes, you can be sad sometimes. Sometimes you have your business hat on, we all have many hats throughout the day. That's who I am. I have many different sides to me."

Maybe Jones had an inkling the video outtakes were going to surface when he said this Tuesday, as if to head it off at the pass. I don't know. I do know that In all my personal dealings with Jones, he's always come across as polite, and he's always been thoughtful and well-spoken in his response to my questions. Now, maybe that's part of his game, maybe he really is a different person when people like me are around than he is elsewhere and that's why guys like DC and Rashad Evans have been driven so batty by Jones. But I can only go on what I've experienced in person, and he's always been a gentleman to me. As has Cormier, for that matter.

"For someone to call me fake, it holds no weight," Jones continued. "If it was a trainer, or a close friend, or my fiancee, then that would mean a lot more. ‘Fake' is something that kind of stuck with me since I fought Rashad Evans and now it's [Cormier's] go-to ammo. You can't criticize my MMA game too much, so they attack my character and my personality. It has no relevancy because none of these guys actually know me."

Who has the mental edge?

@scott_Bond22: Is it possible for the Jones/Cormier brawl to give either man and advantage heading into the fight?

Great question. Several days after the brawl, I'm still not sure about the correct answer. After Monday, I was so sure Cormier had the upper hand mentally, by having gotten the image-conscious Jones to start firing punches, I told my editor I was planning on writing a column on the topic after Tuesday's media event in LA.

Then Tuesday, I watched Jones calmly play a hostile crowd like a fiddle, and watched Cormier lose his cool, raise his voice, and swear at Jones on several occasions during their fan Q&A, all while Jones maintained that Cheshire cat grin. And I wasn't so sure any more. Goodbye, column idea.

On one hand, there's the train of thought that Jones knows that he's about to get challenged like he's never been challenged before, fighting a guy who has tossed around and knocked out heavyweights and with a nonpareil wrestling pedigree, and felt like he had to go out of his way and bully and intimidate Cormier. That's something he's never had to do before, which would indicate Cormier was in his head before anything even went down this week.

On the other, watching Cormier's reactions to Jones' actions, it makes you wonder if Jones' attempts to get in Cormier's head worked.

And then there was Friday's leaked video, which, for me, ended up with me basically throwing my hands up in the air and giving up on trying to figure out if either guy has the upper hand. We've got nearly two months left, I'm sure between now and then there will be plenty more clues dropped.

@kerrypierce2: Paul Daley and Jason High got fired for shoving officials and hitting other fighters wrongly. What's different here?

Do I really have to explain this? In the small picture, you're comparing apples and oranges, as both Daley and High were fired for infractions which occurred in the Octagon. In the big picture, yes, Daley and High were both expendable, and Jones and Cormier are two of the sport's biggest stars who have injected the UFC with its biggest boost of adrenaline in quite some time and are about to bring in a huge payday. It's called "the real world," and I'm not talking about the TV show.

Penn dogs Dolce

@sigep422wesg: Dave what happened between BJ Penn and Mike Dolce??? During the build up show BJ had his whole family on the Dolce Diet

I think this is just a case of BJ being BJ. Did you hear that Penn, on a whim on his way to McCarran International Airport after losing to Frankie Edgar last month, went and bought an RV and started driving around the country (And what a lost opportunity that was for MMA websites by not sponsoring "Where's Waldo?"-type Penn sighting contests with their readers)? Being as prideful as he is, while he cruised around America in his brand-new BJMobile, he was no doubt trying to rationalize what went wrong.

If you're grasping for somewhere to lay the blame, easier to blame the new guy in your inner circle than those who have been with you all along. But objectively, it's hard to see how Dolce is at fault in any way for the loss. Not when so many of Dolce's fighters have performed at such a high level for so long. And would Penn have even come close to hitting 145 at his age -- a drop of two weight classes which was his idea, no one else's -- if he wasn't under Dolce's supervision? My guess is this mood will pass and, BJ being BJ, this is step one in the mental process in which Penn decides he's coming back for one last test, whereupon hopefully Dana White doesn't take his call.

A NAC for Metamoris

@tjohn224: What does NAC have to gain by trying to stop Chael Sonnen from participating at Metamoris?

An opportunity to grandstand, mainly. The biggest thing the current incarnation of the Nevada Athletic Commission has proven is that they'll never miss an opportunity to showboat, so long as there is no chance that doing so will hurt the Silver State's bottom line. Multiple-time test failure who can bring Nevada another $5 million gate? You get a second chance. Multiple-time test failure who won't be headlining any more big Vegas shows? We'll try to come at you even if you go to another state.

While NAC is picking the wrong battle, the semi-related question of whether big jiu-jitsu cards should be overseen by athletic commissions is valid and isn't likely to go away as long as events like Metamoris and the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo's Superfight cards continue gaining traction.

In theory, commissions aren't just about collecting their share of the revenue from combat sports events. They also exist to protect fighters from getting stiffed on their paychecks by unscrupulous promoters. (Don't believe this actually happens? Check out this Dave Meltzer piece from 2008 on an ill-fated MMA event in San Diego). Or to protect consumers if, say, a promoter advertises a big star like Nick Diaz in an internet PPV main event and then does not offer refunds when the guy 98 percent of the audience tunes in to see no-shows at the last minute.

And that doesn't even take into account that even the most hardcore jiu-jitsu fanatics seem to concede that PED abuse in their sport exceeds even the appalling levels seen in mixed martial arts. Yeah, we know commission drug testing is far from perfect. But if the promoters are not going to institute their own testing in a sport in which limbs can be snapped through brute force, someone has to do it.

Most of the arguments against regulation have been semantic quibbles ("fights" vs. "matches") which sidestep bigger issues. There was a time when MMA wasn't considered a commission matter, either. For that matter, pro wrestling was overseen by athletic commissions for decades. What qualifies as a commission-overseen event evolves and changes over the years. If sport jiu-jitsu promoters are moving toward a business model which apes mixed martial arts and boxing pay-per-view events, then it's probably best for all concerned to have an outside agency start to oversee the sport in the same way they do similar events.

Ideally, you know, the state in which an event is actually being held, and not one commission trying to ride headlines from an event in another state.

Gunnar Nelson vs. Rick Story

@TClatch: Gunnar has won 4 straight. Story is 2-2 in his last 4. Why make this fight?

I hate saying "MMA Math," because that might be the single laziest way to dismiss analysis of style matchups, but, umm, well ... sometimes MMA Math is MMA Math. Nelson's four wins haven't exactly come against the top of the division. Story's a tough vet who has been in there with the best of them and both won and lost his share. He's also by all accounts been revitalized by his move to the MMA Lab. In short? I love this fight, a consequential bout at the right time in both competitors' careers.

Title shot for Rory MacDonald?

@MacPherson9999: Does Rory secure a shot at the Hendricks/Lawler winner with a win over Tarec in October?

Sure seems that way. This is basically a placeholder fight for MacDonald. He has more to lose than gain by fighting the unranked Tarec Saffiedine. Hardcore fans know Saffiedine can scrap, but the masses barely know his name. But it's not like MacDonald has many more options - He's already beaten Tyron Woodley; Carlos Condit's on the shelf; Matt Brown's also going to be out awhile; other fighters of note are spoken for at the moment. Barring Lawler winning the rematch with Hendricks by such a narrow margin that they have to go to an immediate trilogy fight, the next title shot is basically Rory's to lose.

Henry Cejudo vs. Scott Jorgensen

@fightsceneblog: How do you think Henry Cejudo will fare against Jorgensen?

Great question. There's no doubt Cejudo, a 2008 Olympic wrestling gold medalist, is being eyed by the UFC as someone who can bring attention to the flyweight division. But, man ... a bout with Scotty Jorgensen at UFC 177 is such a tough first fight in the UFC. Jorgensen has gone toe-to-toe with all the best at bantamweight, from Dominick Cruz to Urijah Faber to Renan Barao and on down the line. Maybe he didn't get his hand raised, but his opponents always walked away looking like and knowing they've been in a battle. Cejudo, meanwhile, doesn't have an opponent with a Wikipedia page in his each of his fights to this point. Seems like a tall order for a first fight. But then, these are exactly the types of matchups that Joe Silva and Sean Shelby like to say "I told you so" after the fact when they're shooting the breeze with reporters in the press room before the show, so we'll see.

Quick hits

@guicruzzz: Who would win a 10-second brawl: @Jon_Anik or @Sholler_UFC?

The real question, Guilherme, is can you keep them separated?

@Elcujorino: Do you think the UFC would ever get into grappling matches? Perhaps have a high-profile grappling match or two on a few PPVS?

Are you kidding me? They've gone so far in the opposite direction, there are times I'm half-surprised Dana White isn't wearing a "Just Bleed" shirt at cageside.

@WHY4TT: When does Ronda Rousey lose?

I dunno. When a 135-pound female Buster Douglas shows up, maybe?

Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.