UFC president Dana White and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones were the biggest names on stage for Thursday’s UFC 235 news conference at the MGM Grand.
Yet it was welterweight champ Tyron Woodley and challenger Kamaru Usman who stole the show.
Woodley and Usman, who will fight each other in the co-main event of the March 2 card at T-Mobile Arena, verbally jousted for nearly 10 uninterrupted minutes as they traded barbs about everything from knockout power to level of competition and even rehashed old conversations about Usman being in awe of Woodley when he first won the belt.
Jones, who opened the news conference by saying he was feeling ill, spoke in muted tones about his satisfaction with the Nevada Athletic Commission hearing from Tuesday that resulted in him being licensed to compete.
The event was one of the first official UFC appearances for undefeated former Bellator MMA and ONE Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren, an outspoken former Olympic wrestler and close friend of Woodley. Askren showed a willingness to mix it up verbally with Usman and even took a few friendly jabs at White.
Askren was more respectful of his first UFC opponent, former welterweight champ Robbie Lawler. The same level congeniality was on display between bantamweights Pedro Munhoz and Cody Garbrandt, another former champion.
The biggest news to come out of the event was the removal of a women’s bantamweight bout between Aspen Ladd and former champ Holly Holm from the card. White didn’t disclose a reason, but said the organization will work to find new fights for both on different cards.