A brawl between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and No. 1 contender Daniel Cormier broke out at the lobby of the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas during the UFC 178 media day on Monday. In the middle of the melee, Jones’ manager Malki Kawa became one of the targets from the fans.
Right after the video of the brawl was posted, some fans went after Kawa on Twitter, accusing him of punching Cormier when he was on the ground, and the longtime MMA manager went to The MMA Hour to defend himself.
"I’ve been held by someone. I clear the guys’ arm and I reach down with an open hand. I never tried to hit (Cormier)," Kawa said. "I never once threw any type of punch or anything that would show that I was trying to any way harm any one of them. I was trying to break it up, so I put my hands in between Cormier’s arm and Jones’ head, wanted to break that up.
"I get grabbed, and that’s what everybody sees me reaching down. At the end of the day, when you look at the slow mo video, you watch my hand go down, hand open, and I grab DC’s arm because he was still throwing punches. I grabbed and pulled him out. I’m the only (one) who ends up picking DC up and pulling him away from the fight. I basically broke it up. Everybody was grabbing Jones. The problem I’m having here is everyone saying ‘you punched him, you punched him,’ and I was the one who f---ing broke it up. I would never do something like that, and it’s a shame that people are trying to paint that picture."
Kawa was clearly unhappy with the situation, and he blames Cormier for starting everything.
"When you really sit down and break this down, Cormier started it with Jon," he said. "It’s not like I’m seeing something different from Jon. Listen, Jon is the light heavyweight champion of the world, he’s the baddest man of the planet, number one pound for pound fighter. What do you guys expect from him to do? This guy grabbed him by the throat and shoved him.
"Jones has a belt on his shoulder and he’s holding it with one arm. He puts his head down into DC’s head. They were facing off. No different than (Dustin) Poirier and (Conor) McGregor were doing. He got face to face, (Dave) Sholler got into between and he ended up breaking (Poirier-McGregor) up, right? Well, in this case Cormier decides to go ahead and push him by the throat. So he put his hands on Jones first and Jones retaliated. They legitimately don’t like each other and they’re getting ready to fight, big title fight, biggest title fight this year.
"Jones is perfectly fine. From what I hear, DC is perfectly fine. Everybody is alright. Thank God no one got hurt."
UFC president Dana White is in Bora Bora at this moment and hasn’t contacted Jones or his manager about the incident yet. The pair of light heavyweights will be together again later on SportsCenter and tomorrow in Los Angeles for more media events, and Jones’ team is not happy about it.
"I’m not ok with it, I don’t think it’s something necessary, but at the same time this happens in the fight game a lot," Kawa said. "You got two guys that are gonna fight each other and stuff like this can happen, but I’m hoping that Daniel can keep his level of professionalism going forward and I know that Jon will. Hopefully, we can continue the media day we won’t have any more issues, although I expect to be a lot of security from now on at this point.
The situation could end up being good for business, as the brawl could bring more attention to their championship fight on Sept. 27 and boost pay-per-view sales.
"We’ll find out [laughs]. We’ll find out Sept. 27th," Kawa said. "I think this could’ve done close to a million (buys) without all this, and now with all the hype and media, I’m sure this will do over a million. I’m positive."
"(Jones) was motivated before this, and I’m sure he’s extra motivated now," he added. "I mean, this is gonna end up being one of those performances that Jones goes out and really puts it on DC."