Leaked Jones, Cormier Video Drives UFC 178 Interest Through the Roof

Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterAugust 8, 2014

USA Today

If there were any lingering doubts in your mind that Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier might be putting on a show for the sole purpose of filling their pockets with your hard-earned cash, well, those fears should be firmly put to rest.

It was difficult to imagine the heat between the pair elevating any more after their Monday lobby brawl at the MGM Grand. But there were those who believed that Jones and Cormier staged the entire thing, possibly with the help of the UFC, in order to boost sales for September's UFC 178 even further through the roof.

It's not out of the realm of possibility; we've seen countless "feuds'' between fighters end with both parties hugging in the Octagon and discussing their need to sell the fight.

Fool me once? Shame on you. Fool me 100 times? Just call me a fan of mixed martial arts.

But a Friday video, allegedly "leaked" from the UFC's offices, shows that Jones and Cormier probably hate each other even more than they're letting on when in the public eye. The clip, just over 90 seconds in length, was filmed after the fighters were featured on a Monday-evening SportsCenter interview.

Jones and Cormier were in separate rooms at the UFC's Las Vegas office. During "media hits" such as this one, the UFC will handle all the filming and simply provide a live satellite feed to the outlet in question. Jones and Cormier were under the impression that the interview with ESPN's Todd Grisham was over and that the cameras were off.

The interview was over. The cameras were still running.

And what those cameras caught was a supremely real moment between two fighters. Much of what they said is unprintable here. They called each other names. Cormier said he wanted to spit in Jones' face. Jones responded by saying that he would "literally kill" Cormier if he spat in his face, and Cormier said he'd like to see Jones try.

Jones said he wasn't talking about a fight. "I will literally kill you," he repeated.

Death threats. If that doesn't drive pay-per-views, then nothing will.

Even though the UFC is at least making attempts to look like it doesn't want us seeing the clip (it is filing copyright claims on copies of the clip that are springing up on YouTube), it is still viewable on independent outlets that aren't afraid of a little posturing from the UFC.

If the UFC is going through the trouble of having the video pulled down, doesn't it mean that the company doesn't want the public seeing it? Not exactly. My theory: This video was posted on the Internet by someone in the UFC.

Whether they had permission to post the video or went rogue is anyone's guess. But access to this clip would have been limited to Zuffa employees.

The fighters were already off satellite with ESPN, so it didn't come from the ESPN campus in Bristol, Connecticut.

They were not yet on the air with Jeff Wagenheim from Sports Illustrated, who filmed a segment with both fighters after the ESPN segment with Grisham concluded.

That seemingly leaves one option: A UFC employee leaked the video. Was he ordered to do so? Did the UFC leak the video in order to promote ticket sales (which, not coincidentally, began on Friday) and then go through the motions of getting the video yanked from the digital world so it could pretend it didn't approve?

We'll never know, but my money is on yes. And if the UFC did leak the video, it's a brilliant move on the company's part.

Regardless, one thing is clear: Jones and Cormier do not like each other. They did not stage a brawl on Monday to enhance interest in the fight. They are actually more cordial to each other in public than they are in private.

And the end result is escalating public interest in a fight that will likely make both men very rich in a single night.

September 27 can't get here soon enough.