clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

With news of Jon Jones’ injury, we all took the Ice Bucket Challenge

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A couple of weeks ago, before "The Brawl" and the leaked "Eavesdrop," UFC 178 was making a run at UFC 100 for most ridiculous card ever assembled. The cymbal crash was to be Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, a stupefying style collision of the first stripe, but there was speculation of Eddie Alvarez making his promotional debut against Donald Cerrone, too, just to crank the knob to 11. We were, as moms like to say, "getting spoilt," particularly since Conor McGregor was already on the card fighting Dustin Poirier.

Then Jones-Cormier did their mini-promotional tour, brawled, called each other [vaginal synonyms], and suddenly Sept. 27 couldn’t get here fast enough.

Now, not to be a hex-monger, especially the worst kind of hex-monger, the kind that goes in for hindsight…but this whole thing always did seem a little too good to be true. It just did. The brawl happened on Aug. 4, and here we are on Aug. 13 with only McGregor and Poirier remaining from that original feat of matchmaking. Alistair Overeem, who has brought down a card or two in his day, accidentally injured Jones during wrestling practice in Albuquerque, thus forcing the most anticipated fight of the year to 2015. That fight is now (hypothetically) being rearranged for distant Jan. 3 at UFC 182, wild-card weekend in the NFL.

And Alvarez remains in purgatory, like the little warble-voiced girl who got trapped in her television in Poltergeist, as Bellator has grown increasingly stubborn in accommodating the UFC’s wild plan. So, no Alvarez-Cerrone; not at UFC 178. No Jones-Cormier, either.

But hey, Chris Cariaso.

In what amounts to one of the most anticlimactic swap-outs in recent memory, Cariaso will now challenge Demetrious Johnson for the flyweight belt in the main event at UFC 178, in lieu of Jones-Cormier. To fully understand the loss in magnitude, just consider this: UFC 177, where Cariaso-Johnson was to be the co-main event behind the Renan Barao-T.J. Dillashaw rematch on Aug. 31, was being completely overshadowed by UFC 178. UFC 177 was a calendar-hurdle that needed to be cleared to a moment frozen in time. It was something to keep us company while waited. It was a PPV prelim for the real PPV down the road. It was the JV game before the varsity took the field. Etcetera, and so on.

(Note: There’s really nothing not to love about Demetrious Johnson, other than the predicaments he finds himself in. There’s no reason to think of him the same way we do a piano falling down the stairs, but, as a main event, the temptation is always there).

The point is, while Dana White did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from his lay of paradise in Bora Bora, so did we all take an ice bath with this news. UFC 178, even with the return of Dominick Cruz, is now sober. Entirely. Too. Sober. If Cariaso is looking for a nickname, a good one might be Chris "Maybe They Should Have Just Let The Kings of Leon Keep the Date" Cariaso. 

The whole series of events drops us once again at the doorstep of the 11-word cliché: At the end of the day, it is what it is.

But there are always underlying issues with this kind of bait-and-switch. Cormier and Jones was a patchwork fight to begin with, because the rightful No. 1 contender, Alexander Gustafsson, became the original casualty of UFC 178. He was supposed to be fighting Jones next, the highly coveted rematch before the really highly coveted blood feud between Cormier and Jones was booked merrily as a Plan B. Now with the postponement, and Gustafsson with plenty of time to be ready, we have an old-fashioned pickle…and not just within dibs in timelines, but in druthers.

Gustafsson says he should be given his spot back; Cormier says no. The UFC, which mandated Jones take on Gustafsson next when Jones was going through his contract updates, now sides with Cormier. The brawl put the thing at too big of a pitch to just leave unprotected on the horizon, even though Gustafsson-Jones put on the Fight of the Year in 2013 at UFC 165. If the Cormier-Jones brawl was bad for the sport, as fight game prudes screamed early on, it was good for locking in a vendetta.

Now Gustafsson will be either asked to fight again as he waits out the winner, or sit idle until April or May of 2015 to fight again. By then, the NBA season, which hasn’t gotten started yet, will be winding down, and we’ll be a quarter of the way to the next World Cup. That’s a long time to wait. But then, so is January, when Cormier and Jones will hopefully meet in the cage…"hopefully," because nothing can be taken for granted.

This is the fight game.

The MMA Gods that are always being referenced -- as well as those Gods’ earthbound agents, Sean Shelby and Joe Silva -- have been known to work in mysterious ways. In the cage business, there are hopes and good intentions and then there are realities. And when we deal with the latter, you can reference the eleven-word cliché above, whether it’s Sept. 27, Jan. 3, or really any date that comes to mind on the calendar.