“You want my personal opinion? Our bad. It’s our bad,” White told MMAjunkie in a media scrum following UFC Fight Night 47 in Bangor, Maine. “These guys are fighters. They’re two of the baddest dudes on the planet. They’re going face-to-face to stare off. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen and shouldn’t happen, but it did.”
At a media event to promote the now-delayed light heavyweight championship fight, Jones (20-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) and Cormier (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) engaged in what was far from a routine staredown. Neither man gave an inch when approaching the other, and within seconds utter mayhem ensued.
While there have been incidents during staredowns in the past, what happened between “Bones” and “DC” took the cake. White said it was an unfortunate situation, especially because it was completely unexpected.
“I don’t think that was something that was thought about,” White said. “What happened was, when Jones went in fast and hard the way he did, he head butted (Cormier). Listen, you’ve got two of the baddest dudes in the world going face-to-face. Every time you do a staredown, it’s always explosive and anything can happen.
“Two of my favorite things in the sport (are) the weigh-ins and the fight. At the weigh-ins, guys have been away from their families for eight weeks or longer. They’re cutting weight, fight’s the next day. They’re nasty, they’re mean, they’re irritable and it’s explosive and anything can happen. Then the day of the fight is the reason we all watch.”
Typically White regulates the staredowns, but at the time of the media event, he was vacationing in Bora Bora and the UFC’s Senior Director of Public Regulations, Dave Sholler, took his place. Sholler was unable to contain the explosive situation, something White credits to inexperience.
“Dave ‘The Ragdoll’ Sholler, he doesn’t have a lot of experience in that position,” White said. “That thing got a little crazy. It’s going to happen. This isn’t ice-skating. It’s the fight business and anything can happen at any given moment, no matter how educated the guys are, how great they are, everything is always explosive, man. Two of the baddest dudes get in each other’s face, you’ve got to be ready and make sure nothing happens.”
The headlines from Jones and Cormier didn’t end with the brawl, though. The heat pored over to an ESPN interview later that day. Footage was released of the two fighters bickering at each other off-air while their mics were still hot, which brought excitement for the contest to a peak.
Questions arose about how such footage became available to the public, and while it’s certainly uncommon to see such raw, behind-the-scenes footage, White claims to know exactly how it was released. Moreover, he said the exchange was just the tip of the iceberg.
“I know how the clip got out there,” White said. “Every time you do those transmissions, those transmissions out there, they go to tons of media and they’re jumping from station to station. Somebody was on there actually filming when they were talking. You think that’s bad? You should see the other stuff we have that they were saying to each other that people didn’t get. It was pretty nasty.”