Estragon: I’m asking you if we’re tied.
Vladimir: How do you mean tied?
Vladimir: But to whom? By whom?
Estragon: To your man.
Vladimir: To Godot? Tied to Godot! What an idea! No question of it.
—Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
The two light heavyweights that fans most want to watch fight clash this Saturday at UFC 192. Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson just don’t clash with the man that fans want to see them fight.
“The thing that’s really f#<*ed up is that we live our day-to-day lives normal,” Cormier explained to Breitbart Sports on the UFC 192 conference call. “We don’t worry about [Jon] Jones. But you guys will ask us questions about this guy, and the headline will make it sound as though I’m over here stewing about Jon Jones. I could really give a s#!+ about Jon Jones. I care about beating Alexander Gustafsson, and then, if Jones is the next guy, Jones is the next guy.”
Like Cormier, Gustafsson lost a competitive bout to Jones, suspended for allegedly fleeing the scene of an accident that left a pregnant woman injured. While the Swede owns victories over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Matt Hamill, Wladimir Matyushenko, and Thiago Silva, his blood-and-guts loss to Jones plays as his most memorable fight in the loop running through MMA fans’ minds.
“I don’t even think about Jon Jones right now,” Gustafsson told Breitbart Sports. “It’s just about the next fight. It’s just about DC for me right now. He’s the champion of the world in our division. That’s where I have my goal. I don’t even like thinking about Jon Jones and all that situation.”
The Estragon and Vladimir of the UFC find themselves in the same place. They keep waiting for
Godot Jon Jones. They just don’t know when, precisely, he shows up. And they maintain they don’t care. They maintain it so emphatically that their tone contradicts their words. They say “I don’t care” like they really, really care.
The Swedish Mauler says he’s tired of hearing about his fight that fans can’t stop talking about. Cormier, defending the title he won after a suspension forced Jones to vacate it, says he dislikes the discussion focused on a guy watching at home instead of competing in the octagon.
“It’s hard to really answer these questions about this guy and allow him to actually just sit and continue to almost reign over this division when he’s disqualified himself from competition because you guys continue to ask us questions about him,” the former Olympian divulges. “My day-to-day life does not involve worries about Jon Jones.”
If Cormier does not miss the man, MMA fans do. Or, perhaps, more accurately, they miss the fighter. The man bailed after allegedly breaking a woman’s arm as a result of ignoring traffic signals in Albuquerque. The fighter broke Lyoto Machida, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Vitor Belfort, and other UFC champions past and present in the cage. He owns the most impressive record in mixed-martial arts even if his criminal record disappoints.
But neither Gustafsson, who nearly defeated Jones, nor Cormier, who dominated the former champ in the second round of their fight before the momentum shifted, believe in the infallibility of the suspended fighter. They don’t think Jones, never experiencing a legitimate defeat in 22 bouts, is Godot, or God or even a good guy (at least Cormier doesn’t seem to think that). They think that he’s merely great.
And their greatness waits on the reappearance of Jones. They need Jon Jones to prove their own greatness. But they would rather fight Jon Jones than talk about Jon Jones. But they continue to sit on the bench, like Estragon and Vladimir, to wait and talk about
Godot Jon Jones.
Cormier finds it “ironic” that Jones’s legal business overshadows his octagon business, noting that he can’t escape his nemesis despite his nemesis’ respite from the sport. Jones faces a hearing Tuesday in New Mexico that may bring legal closure and open up opportunities in MMA again. The roundish wrestler says he wants Bones back in the UFC. He also says he wants him punished by the courts.
Jon Jones, Cormier admits, “casts a shadow.” Heavenly bodies, as last night’s eclipse demonstrates, occasionally do that. And then we all wait around for the spectacular sight to return.