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Tuesday’s NAC hearing fell somewhere between fact and fiction

Zuffa LLC via Getty

If you watched the Nevada Athletic Commission hearing on Tuesday you know that a press conference brawl does not add up to a slap on the wrist -- as some expected -- but more like a punch to the economical teeth. And also that reality is obviously fiction, and therefore "reality." 

At this point, the NAC hearings are the hit show of Fight Pass, the UFC’s digital streaming service for all your fights and drama. We can laugh and cry along with the cast, from the ever-forgiving grandfather figure Bill Brady to the no-nonsense Anthony Marnell III to the recurring cameo role of Floyd Mayweather as Floyd Mayweather, whose lines are always hilarious.

Mayweather again appeared before the commission, this time to sort of chat about disturbing footage on Showtime’s "All Access" program, which aired before he fought Marcos Maidana on Sept. 13. If you think Mayweather has fancy footwork in the ring, you should see him in the courtroom. My friends, he is a vaporman. A completely untouchable hologram. Just a nine-figure mirage.

Did I mention he knows how to use the Force?

(SPOILER ALERT if you genuinely don't know).

(Because he does!)

On this episode of the NAC's ongoing hearing series, he and CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Leonard Ellerbe, told the commission that everything they had seen on the reality show was of course manufactured fiction, from the 31-minute "dog house" rounds to the weed the remora smoke all around the shark himself. Fake, fake, and more fake. Everybody knows that reality shows are just fiction and that fiction is rampant in reality, anyway, just look around at all the fake people doing fake things -- plus, there are editors bending reality into fiction that should be made aware of, it’s a slippery gotdamb slope.

"You’ve acquitted yourself well," harrumphed commissioner Skip Avansino, no slouch when it comes to distinguishing between B.S. and…well, I guess non-B.S. I’m telling you, over the course of this season the banter between the boxer and the Nevada commission borders on bonhomie! So good. Can’t wait to see how these characters develop.

That brought things around to the case of the Daniel Cormier-Jon Jones UFC 178 press conference brawl, the one that happened in early August and turned a pretty compelling title fight into a viral high-fiving can’t-miss mega-event. Jones went first. He asked for leniency in the matter. The NAC watched the footage of what went down in the MGM Grand lobby, then deliberated over the UFC champion’s involvement for over 48 minutes and change. During that time they tried to figure out an appropriate punishment for Jones -- commissioner Pat Lundvall even went so far as to ask Jones what should be the punishment for Jones -- before finally framing a motion.

Jones explained that he’d already been dealing in the repercussions of the brawl, starting with Nike pulling its endorsement deal with him. He appeared "contrite" for his role in the brawl, from the punch on down to the aftermath, and Brady pointed out that this show of contrition had "softened" his heart. If Fight Pass ever decides to play canned sitcom laughter over these proceedings, this would have been a good place to use it. A hug between Jones and Brady would have been a good "awwww" moment, but in this reality show the producers showed admirable restraint.

Anyway, the verdict: Forty hours of community service in Las Vegas, along with a $50,000 fine. Since a press conference brawl was (relatively) new to the commission, they wanted to make a statement to discourage copycats. "To allow it to go with no more than a slap on the hand would be an offense to those who conduct themselves gentlemanly," said Avansino, a little too 19th century for this courtroom. (But throw in some sitcom applause? That line would have been perfect!).

Next they brought up the challenger Cormier, who used the self-defense defense, making a case that he was merely responding to a threat when Jones put his forehead on him. Brady wanted to know if "Cormare" had "wrassled" in college, and Cormier said did he ever, boy, and he could tell you some stories!

And he did. Once about an incident with a wrestler from Iran, and another with a guy who poked his eye. Cormier wasn’t as contrite as Jones, but he wasn’t uncontrite either. He talked about having lost some of the kids in his wrestling class, as well as the embarrassment the incident had caused him elsewhere. "I don’t like people being disappointed in me," he said. "It sucks."

Marnell wanted to know why he went on FOX afterwards and said that he’d do it the same way again, and Cormier talked about an "avocado room" in which chit-chat amongst fighters takes place (or something like that), and this was a satisfactory answer. He also spoke about an encounter with "Bigfoot" Silva, which some of the commission settled in for like it was a campfire story. Turns out it wasn’t.

That part had actually happened. 

Because it was determined that Jones was more culpable in the matter for instigating the shove and therefore inciting the brawl, Cormier was given a reduced sentence. For his part he got 20 hours of community service, which he can do in San Jose where he trains, and was fined $9,000, which is ten percent of his fight purse.

As expected, the January 3 fight between the two is still on. Jones and Cormier were given fines and community service. Later on, the recently retired fighter Wanderlei Silva was banished indefinitely from fighting in Nevada and socked with a $70,000 fine for the Houdini act he pulled in May when presented with a random drug test. And Mayweather, who is quickly becoming a fan favorite on this reality show within the reality show, made off with his real life entourage after explaining that reality is, in fact, just "reality."

Is it? Hell if I know, but after Tuesday’s hearing I can’t help but think he’s onto something. Stay tuned.

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