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#TheTimeIsNow — But Only Because of Jon Jones

(Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

MMA reached its zenith at UFC 182 on Saturday, but if you looked at and listened to the crowd throughout the night you’d have hardly recognized that.

The audience was sparse and half-dead. They’d have done a wave to entertain themselves if the first four fights of the PPV — four decisions featuring unimpressive and sluggish performances — hadn’t already put them to sleep. An incessant stream of “this event sucks” tweets rolled in. This script has played itself out in the past. A card that’s supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport turns out to be a boring, uninteresting, overhyped amalgam of everything wrong with it, only this time we spent an extra $5. It appeared the poor showings, as well as the restless (and partially absent) audience would ruin one of the most anticipated UFC cards in recent memory.

Then Jon Jones fought Daniel Cormier.

“Domination” and “breaking your opponent” are cliched phrases in MMA, but when fans and pundits originally coined them they had performances like Jon Jones’ in mind. Not only did Jones beat Cormier, he beat Cormier at what he was best at — wrestling…and he made it look easy. Jon Jones took an Olympic wrestler to the mat multiple times just for kicks, broke his will in the later rounds through the same fabled “grind” Cormier was supposed to be the master of, and made him cry at the post-fight press conference.

The in-cage martial artistry isn’t even the best part. That came after the phantasmagoric displays of violence. Jones taunted a dejected Cormier with a “crotch chop” circa late 1990′s WWE. When Joe Rogan conducted a rushed (the PPV was about to hit the end of the allotted time) interview with Jones, the reigning light heavyweight champ chided Cormier’s supporters by telling them to burn their “Break Bones” t-shirts and buy his “Unbroken” t-shirt. Already guffawing (or seething, depending on your alignment) at these antics? There’s MORE. In the post-fight show on Fox Sports 1, Jones continued to bash his defeated foe.

“I hope he’s somewhere crying right now,” Jones said. “I’m sure he is.” He continued on, saying Cormier is the kind of fighter who breaks when fights get tough. Jones also said Cormier is no king of the grind like people thought.

When asked about a possible reconciliation, Jones refused to let up on his verbal onslaught.

“I know if he would have won, he would have been up here, talking all types of trash,” Jones told MMAJunkie. “So I don’t feel sorry for him. This is combat.”

The hashtag #TheTimeIsNow became the butt end of many jokes on MMA Twitter during the last few weeks. The UFC used the hashtag to promote their embarrassing “omg big announcement” press conference where they announced they had no big announcement. People used #TheTimeIsNow to mock the UFC’s recent legal troubles as well as the grim state of their PPV business.

But despite all that has gone wrong — and all that’s still currently going wrong — the UFC was right. The time is now. Not because of CM Punk‘s entry in to the UFC. Not because of the upgrades to Fight Pass. Not because of the complete 2015 schedule. Not because of Brock Lesnar’s rumored return.

The time is now because of Jon Jones.

Jon Jones is the best MMA fighter that any of us will ever see in our lifetimes. You can claim Fedor Emelianenko was the GOAT while clutching your Pride VHS collection, but you’d be wrong. Jon Jones is capable of violence and technique on a level we’ve never seen before, nor will we likely ever see again if MMA continues its current descent in popularity.

In addition to his fighting acumen, Jon Jones posses more personality and emotional magnetism than all the other UFC champions combined. Remember how MMA erupted when Ronda Rousey didn’t shake Miesha Tate’s hand after submitting her at UFC 168? What Jones did to Cormier after UFC 182 makes that look like a bro hug by comparison.

The best part is it’s not a gimmick. Jon Jones doesn’t caricature over-the-top professional wrestling promos from yesteryear. Jon Jones doesn’t exclaim that fighters from less fortunate countries mistake public transit for barnyard animals. Jon Jones breaks people. Jon Jones chokes people out and drops them on the canvas, limp and limbs quivering. Jon Jones makes people cry, then says he’s glad about it. Jon Jones is unabashedly himself. A large percentage of fans hate him for it — just look at the comments on any Jones-related article to see that. Hell, someone even tweeted to CagePotato last night saying they hope somebody shoots Jones. But despite the hate, they pay to see him. Estimates already state UFC 182 achieved over 750k buys. In an age where fighters who draw 400k are considered the company’s top stars, this is almost a miracle.

The time for watching the best MMA fighter of all time and the UFC’s current biggest star is right now. Jones is the light in the current dark age of MMA. Every second of watching Jon Jones display his craft is a gift from a Lovecraftian god of violence. Cherish this gift, even if you don’t like Jones as a person.

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