The state argued the incident was “bad for the sport” and could have led to injury to the fighters and others. Jones and Cormier both were quick to admit to their transgressions and were ready to accept whatever punishment the commission deemed appropriate.
Jones, however, stated that he had already suffered a substantial financial penalty in the form of losing his Nike sponsorship, which his attorney characterized as “over six figures” in terms of value.
“I’ve lost a very big endorser of mine. One of my biggest,” Jones said that day at the hearing.
After much deliberation, the commission decided to fine Jones $50,000 and required to fulfill 40 hours of community service. Cormier was eventually fined $9,000 and required to fulfill 20 hours of community service. Neither fighter was suspended.
In a media call leading up to Saturday’s UFC 182 showdown between the two, Jones admitted that he had not in fact lost the Nike sponsorship due to the scuffle with Cormier, instead saying that he and Nike had mutually agreed to separate well before the incident occurred.
“When I was in front of the commission, I definitely worded it wrong. Nike did not drop me because of that fight, and I kind of owe an apology to Nike for saying that they dropped me because of the fight. They actually didn’t,” said Jones on Monday, even though he had been under oath when testifying before the Nevada Athletic Commission.
“Nike has been known to support its athletes through much worse things than a brawl in the middle of the MGM,” he continued.
“The truth is, Nike didn’t seem as if they wanted to move forward in the field of MMA. They weren’t activating me in the way they said they would. They promised me a lot of commercials and all types of stuff, outside of the financial and the merchandise. My (Nike) rep came to me and said, ‘Hey Jon, I’m sorry, I know we promised you this, but I don’t think we’re moving in that direction.’ So they said we will keep you on board as long as you want to be on board because it’s a pleasure to work with you, and obviously, we’ll do everything with you outside of the Octagon, but your deal is still there.”
That was when Jones had first determined that he no longer wanted to be in a deal with Nike.
“I had just finished the second year of my deal, I was getting ready to start my third year of the deal, and I told them, ‘You know what? If you guys aren’t too serious about martial arts, then I don’t want to be a part of the company. Hopefully, I can respectfully leave.’ And they said, ‘Well, Jon, if you don’t like the deal we have in place, then we’ll give you that out.’ So I was supposed to be out anyway, because we talked about it, it was already official, everyone at headquarters knew. My team knew that I wasn’t going to do my third year with Nike.”
So Jones was already well on his way out the door at Nike before he and Cormier had their skirmish. The one thing the brawl with Cormier did do was to accelerate the termination of the partnership.
“Then we got into the brawl, and my rep called me and said, ‘Jon, I know we were going to wait another month or two before announcing that or having you sign a contract to release you, but since you got in this fight, let’s just have you sign this paperwork now, and let’s just not waste your time and allow you to go your own way,’” Jones continued.
“So, the truth of the matter is, I did not get dropped by Nike. It was a mutual thing, something we had discussed months before the actual fight. Now I’m with Reebok, and I’m so excited to be with Reebok. These guys are taking mixed martial arts very seriously and they’re taking me very seriously as an athlete.”