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 411mania » MMA » Columns

Did the UFC Knowingly Leak the Jones/Cormier 'Hot Mics' Video?
Posted by Lorenzo Vasquez III on 08.14.2014

Last Monday Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier kicked-off the week with a now infamous brawl. Leading to this brawl it was widely known that both men had a sort of distaste for one another. However, despite the obvious, there were still few who believed the bitterness and the brawl were all a set up to help sell the fight. In many instances, this is the case as fighters will engage in such shenanigans for the sole purpose of selling the fight and nothing more. Well, on Friday, news caught wind of a leaked video showing the hatred between both fighters is genuine and perhaps deeper than lead to believe. ( See video here)

To quickly summarize the contents of the video… let's just say Jones and Cormier made sure to reference one another with a provocative term for a woman's genitalia, Cormier was sure to express to Jones that were he in the same room he would spit on his face, and Jones made sure to tell Cormier that he would "literally kill" him if he were spat on. The video was shot the day of brawl at UFC offices in Las Vegas. After appearing on a satellite feed for ESPN the two apparently thought all was clear and began to squabble without realizing the microphones and video recording equipment were "hot." Regardless, of whether or not the video taints and casts a gloomy shadow over mix martial arts and the UFC, it sure would have picked up more interest for September's UFC 178, when Jones and Cormier were supposed to meet before Jones' injury, for the UFC light heavyweight title. There will be proponents that support such "playful wit" and of course, there will be opponents. On the one hand, events like this, when fighters do have a genuine dislike for one another, can surely be a black eye for mix martial arts and definitely produce the barbaric tone that some say is MMA. Yet, on the other hand, events like this will increase the potential draw of the fight. Ridiculous or not, right or wrong, we love to see this kind of behavior and guess what? The UFC knows it!

The UFC is a business first and foremost. Let's be clear, if that statement were not true then the UFC could not put on the shows it does, etc. From a business stand point, the chemistry created between the feuding light heavyweights is something to be taken advantage of. Perhaps, the recording of the video was unintentional, but did the UFC want to have the video leaked, deliberately? After all, only someone under the UFC banner would have access and the ability to leak the video. At the same time, you wonder, after all the work and backing that has been done to enlighten the populace and promote MMA, would the UFC really intentionally release a video with the potential to cloud the organization.

Why the UFC would leak the video

At the end of the day all businesses must meet a bottom line in order to march on. Failure to meet standards and what not means the business plummets and possibly fails down the line. Knowing this, it is not far fetched to believe the UFC intentionally leaked the video. Despite the UFC's attempt to appear innocent by making an effort to pull the video off online outlets and file copyright claims, there are good reasons to simply not buy into the possible façade.

First and most importantly, ticket sales and per preview numbers. Coincidentally or not, ticket sales for UFC 178 began Friday, the same day the video was leaked to the press. There was no better way to improve ticket sales than having the video leaked the same day to draw more interest. It is also no secret that PPV numbers for 2014 probably won't glamour the same they did the pervious years partially due to the absences of the UFC's biggest draws such as, George St-Pierre and Anderson Silva. The added bitterness between Jones and Cormier had given the impression the fight would have been great with the two unleashing a vicious beating on one another. Thus, prior to scraping the fight, with the first half of year shaping up not so great pay per view numbers wise, the video had the potential to draw enough added interest to possibly help increase PPV buys.

Secondly, more interest in the general product. If the UFC did purposefully leak the video they likely know, despite any public outcry, that it is not going to do more harm than good. Instead, they likely know there's potential to bring new fans over to the UFC generally speaking and not just the fight itself. The brawl last Monday made mainstream news in some places. Essentially, that means the UFC leaking the video would be a possible way to keep the UFC in the mainstream news by refreshing everyone's memory of the brawl. This means more eyes and interest outside of the regular fan base and new fans are great for growth. This is even considering that some people would be put off by such shenanigans. So, there is a chance a cloud is shrouded over the UFC and MMA in general because of the brawl and video. Maybe a few years back the cloud would have stuck around but in this era, I don't think so. Mix martial arts is now in an era with a more open and educated stance to the sport. People are smart enough to realize that MMA is not a barbaric show but rather, a legit sport and there is no doubt the UFC realizes this.

Since the fight is now cancelled, hypothetically, if more people new to the UFC tuned in to watch UFC 178 and Jones and Cormier would have put on a fight of the year candidate type of fight it is without say that MMA will have gained new fans. Even without a solid performance out of both men if the card in itself produced great and enjoyable fights new fans were sure to be made. Overall, prior to the cancellation of the fight, UFC leaking the video was possibly a smart move. A perhaps, calculated move with small risks. UFC executives many not be happy with Jones' and Cormier's actions last Monday and over the video feed but they know when something has potential to draw and earn the almighty dollar.


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