When I was 55 years old, I learned that my wife of twenty years was having an affair with my good friend Robert Johnson. Now I pride myself in being unforgivably self-aware. And while I could have drank a bit less bourbon on weekends, and been a tad more attentive, I really didn’t see that one coming. So that unsatisfying early stoppage of Dan Henderson wasn’t so bad, in retrospect.
I got a call last night from my best friend Stanley Jabrowski. Two or three times a week, he becomes pretty convinced that he has prostate cancer. But despite the fact that his exaggerated worries are nothing more than a neurotic fable, the sad truth is that he is simply afraid to die. And in the end, I’d wager it’s the stress that will get him. So I guess it wasn’t so bad seeing a proud Swedish flag rippling behind a transparent UFC logo, then seeing Alexander Gustafsson curled up like an infant boy, absorbing unnecessary brain damage as third-party penance for the early exit of Henderson. In comparison.
Yes, almost everything about the event was dissatisfying. The important fights were short. The unimportant, long. They even reminded us that tens of thousands of heartbroken Swedes had nodded their drowsy heads in some Stockholm event center past three in the morning. Granted, some guy named Sam Sicilia, a fellow would probably make a great character in a quirky mafia-themed Nintendo 64 video game, knocked his opponent out. But that didn’t matter much the moment an historically resilient Hendo got poked in the eye, then changed his game plan based on the implied threat of a doctor’s stoppage that would have been merciful compared to the reactionary referee who leapt across the cage like a secret service agent protecting an unthreatened President from a nonexistent shadow on some harmless grassy knoll. Nonetheless, things could have been worse, I am reminded.