After about 16 months out of the spotlight, Jon Jones is back as part of the UFC promotional machine. UFC held a press conference in New York Friday to set the table for UFC 232, scheduled for Dec. 29 from Las Vegas. The headlining bout that night will be Jones taking on Alexander Gustafsson in a rematch of their 2013 classic.
The very end of the press conference is what got the most attention during the customary stare down between Jones and Gustafsson. The two men squared off and then turned to face the audience and cameras, standing side by side. Jones then took a step to stand in front of Gustafsson, a gesture that was then returned. At that point, Jones shoved Gustafsson and Dana White quickly got in between the two men before things got out of hand.
When speaking to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani about the incident. Jones explained why he chose to shove his rival.
“I’m growing up, I’m maturing,” Jones said. “I’m realizing the game is entertainment as well. People want to be entertained leading up to the fight. Gus is a guy who is pretty quiet. He throws some insults out but he’s not very big on entertainment. I don’t want this to be a dry card, I want people to be excited about it so I thought I’d mix it up with him a little.”
While calling the shove an act of maturity is an odd choice of words, Jones is accurate in his assessment of UFC as a form of entertainment. Typically, Jones’ actions outside of the cage have created the storylines heading into the fight. So if Jones has cleaned up his act this time around, some fabricated drama may be what is necessary.
This isn’t Jones’ first press conference scuffle. Jones had a much more aggressive interaction with Daniel Cormier in a Las Vegas hotel lobby after a press conference hyping up their first fight.
Jones and Gustafsson will have a chance to settle their grudge on Dec. 29. Jones won the first bout in Sept. 2013 by decision. Watch the full ESPN interview below.