As if Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Dominick Cruz, Tim Kennedy and Cat Zingano weren't enough reasons to tune into UFC 178 on Sept. 27, the two fighters in the main event just gave you one more:
But the MGM Grand Hotel lobby wasn't home to the first confrontational moment these two men have shared—it was just home to the first physical one. Long before the challenger put his hands on the champion's throat or Jones threw punches at a downed Cormier, they participated in what can easily be considered as one of the best war of words in MMA history.
Let your eyes guide you through the highlights.
Cormier's UFC 173 Post-Fight Interview
Though Cormier and Jones may have shared harsher words about each other prior to Cormier's dominant performance against Dan Henderson, they meant almost nothing up until this point. After two one-sided victories as a light heavyweight, the matchup against Jones the former Olympian had long since dreamed of was closer than ever at coming to fruition.
Considering Alexander Gustafsson was next in line for a title shot against the reigning pound-for-pound king, Cormier was poised to surgically repair his bothersome knee while he waited around for his next opponent to surface from a crowded light heavyweight division.
As fate would have it, Gustafsson would develop a bothersome knee of his own, effectively preventing the Swedish fighter from challenging for the title and opening the door for Cormier to step in.
Jones Reaches Out to His Daughter
According to Dana White, the UFC president could overhear Cormier's daughter shouting in the background during the phone call to offer Cormier the fight. She was sure her dad would be the champion of the world.
Soon after both men agreed to step into the cage together, Jones took to a daughter of his own to let Cormier know how confident the champion and his family were about where the strap would reside on Sept. 28.
Cormier Gets Creative on Instagram, Jones Responds
Cormier edited a picture, superimposing himself onto a photo of what is likely the champion's fight against Gustafsson at UFC 165. He posted the photo in response to Jones' decision to publicize a cut he developed during a sparring session in preparation for his next title defense. He captioned the photo with this:
September 27th I'm gonna put so many of these on [your] face @jonnybones. I can't wait everyday I'm dreaming and thinking of you. And I'm gonna take [you] down and grind my elbow into that cut you got today. Put a bullseye on that thing. Some things should remain private. DC
Just hours later, the champion took to the same social media platform to share his sentiments on why his newest challenger is anything but. After facing challengers like Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort and Glover Teixeira, Jones doesn't think the Olympic wrestler has anything new to offer.
The Aftermath of the Infamous Brawl
Here we are. The war of words suddenly became something completely different. As if it wasn't obvious before, the animosity is real—these dudes really, really don't like each other.
Able to back up what he said he'd be able to accomplish against his Olympic-level challenger, Jones signed into his Twitter account to gloat over his accomplishments in the brief scuffle.
Cormier couldn't let Jones have the last word.
With Nevada State Athletic Commission sanctions pending, here's hoping this war reverts back to its verbal origins. If there is any more physicality without leather gloves on their hands and a referee within close proximity, this could be the most anticipated fight that never happens.
Kristian Ibarra is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He also serves as the sports editor at San Diego State University's student-run newspaper, The Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter at @Kristian_Ibarra for all things MMA.
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