The Champion, Jon Jones, stood victorious inside of the ring, the buzz inside of the earpiece from the producers told Joe to get ready. He knew the drill by now, knew to grab the microphone and be waiting inside of the ring to interview the winner. They had done this literally thousands of times, to the point where Joe was unable to recollect just how many times he had stepped into the ring amidst the flood of production crew and fighter entourages that littered the ring after a fight like this.
In a flash there was a dull tone filling the arena, it made him cringe, standing in place with the mic in hand. Joe opened his eyes to what was an eerily quiet arena, too quiet. With this many people and as much commotion that he had just been a part of, the arena had dropped dead silent. It made zero sense to Joe, an avid fan of conspiracy theories and the lesser-explored phenomena in the world.
“What the fuck is going on?” He turned to his broadcast partner, Mike, wearing his signature plastic smile, staring blankly up at him.
“Jon Jones has done it!” Mike was turning forward, towards the monitor, shouting now.
“Mike,” Rogan looked around, noting that everyone was frozen in place, that the ring was empty outside of Dana White’s facade, the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in his grasp. “Mike!”
“What a fight, huh pardner?” Mike looked up at Joe, his unblinking eyes throwing him off.
Joe reached out at Mike, who kept his eyes fixed onto him, his lips moving but the words not coming out. His fingers brushed against Mike’s jacket, almost like they were passing right through him. Joe’s eyes bugged out wide, his head starting to shake. He pushed his hand into Mike’s chest, first his fingers, then his knuckle, down to his wrist, engulfed in Mike’s chest.
“Jonny Bones Jones!” Mike shouted with enthusiasm, Joe’s hand felt cold, like he had placed it inside of a cooler full of ice on a warm day.
“Mike, buddy,” Joe muttered. “My fucking hand is inside of your chest and, Mike, I, I don’t know, it’s cold!”
“Corn Nuts! Corn to the core!” Mike shouted.
“No, Mike!” Joe tugged, his hand slowly coming free from Goldberg’s chest, sliding out from his white button-down shirt like it was made of liquid metal. His hand emerged from Mike’s chest covered in a green goo, his fingers stuck together. Mike’s dead gaze continued until a sound roared throughout the Baltimore Arena.
It sounded like waves crashing, when Joe looked around and saw that everyone in the stands had liquefied, that they were all combined as one, rolling down the stands like a biblical flood. Joe quickly scurried up the steps, stumbling into the ring, watching the flood roll down throughout the bottom level of the arena. Chairs, cameras, cups and debris slammed into the side of the UFC Octagon(R). Joe watched while Mike continued shouting throughout it all, starting to slowly melt into the rest of the flood.
“It is allllll over!” He shouted, only his torso and his head left, slowly liquefying themselves, the UFC Fan Ocean(R) swallowing Goldberg whole, just like he had never existed, like he never was his own entity, just a part of the whole that was the UFC. Goldberg’s eyes melted out of his head, before his head was consumed by the flood.
“Dana!” Joe tried to catch his breath, watching while the water lapped up against the side of the Octagon, splashing over the side. “Dana this is fucked up! We gotta get out of here, man.”
Dana was unmoving, the lights reflecting off of his polished, lumpy, reddened head. The smirk he wore was one that Joe knew all-too-well. That meant that he knew a way out, that he understood it. Dana always had an understanding, a way to reason with the criticism that the world launched at the UFC, at all of them. Tonight had been spectacular, but now it was all being washed away, Joe and Dana the lone remnants of the night.
Who would report of the world of Jon Jones overcoming Glover Teixeira? Did they see it? Did they see the art that was Jon Jones in the ring? It all had felt like a waste now. Joe’s eyes scanned the arena, more water was rushing from the entrances to the stands. Jon Jones was nowhere to be seen, was he even still here? Were any of them?
Joe’s mind immediately raced to this being an alternate universe. Maybe the fabric of space and time was disrupted by the performance that Jon Jones put on for the world on April the 26th, the year of the lord 2014. The only possible answer was that it was too much for the world, that the world, unable to handle an auteur like Jon Jones who was not only ahead of his time, but too much for his time and space to be able to handle.
He reached out for Dana, his large grin unwavering in the face of their surroundings. Mike had been taken, reclaimed by the flood that was the UFC Fan Ocean(R), but Dana would always be different, always be on a different level from Goldberg. Be on a different level from everyone else. He was Dana White.
“Dana,” Joe said, feeling his head starting to overheat. “What is happening?”
“The convergence,” he uttered, taking a firm grasp onto Joe’s shoulders, Joe relieved that Dana was solid, that he was a corporeal being in this universe where Goldberg was sludge, transformed into another part of the whole. “The synthesis of brand and marketing. The UFC. This is your transmigration, Joe. The UFC.”
“I don’t understand,” Joe shook his head, only to feel the firm grasp of Dana’s hand upon his chin. He had felt it once before, years previous, before this whole thing took off like this. Dana was a firm, but gentle man, not many had known that, but he had to play the tough guy. He was known by those in the know not only to be a man of passion, but a man of sincerity and humility. “Where did everything go?”
Dana took a hold of Joe around the back of the neck, pulling Joe’s head forward, their foreheads touching. Dana’s head felt warm, then the rush came over him. It was unlike any high that Joe had ever experienced, a full mind and body high that he had read about, but never experienced. It was salvia but transcending the confines of space and time. The lights were reflecting off of their equally chromed-skulls, fueling the final stage of the convergence.
There was a slight dull pain in Joe’s forehead, followed by a rush of strong emotions. Like watching a film, Joe was watching the world through Dana White’s eyes, from his youth to his days as a Boxercise instructor to the man that stood there, melding physical and mental capacities with Joe. The greatest mind in the fight business was becoming one with Rogan, an experience unlike any other.
The arena was shrinking, Dana and Joe’s fusion continuing while either they grew or the arena shrunk, it was unclear which was which. Their hands clasped together, Joe feeling Dana’s hands becoming one with his. They were becoming something else, something different, beyond understanding. The water had engulfed them up to their ankles now, feeling calming while their head breached the top of the arena. The world had stopped moving originally, but was now moving in fast motion, the Dana/Joe hybrid the size of a skyscraper, face-to-face with a slightly taller Jon Jones.
Joe peered down at his left hand, only to see that the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship was in his — their — hand still. Jones lifted a foot, only to set it down onto a bus, the muffled screams from inside juxtaposed over his mighty roar at his toe, the size of a Smart car, becoming disjointed from his oversized foot. Joe/Dana held the title in both hands, Jones turning his back to them, beginning the ceremony for Joe/Dana to slide the belt around his waist, snapping one, two, three, four snaps into place before Jones let out a mighty roar that made the earth shake.
The Baltimore Arena burst open from the top, twisted steel, glass and debris spilling out along with the waters. The waters would not stop, they had begun and will continue, the flood of the UFC was unstoppable. Joe/Dana stared in awe at Jones, belt around his waist, severed toe in hand, understanding that tonight Jon Jones had done something that no man had ever done before; he had fused together two worlds. This was not the reality that existed before UFC 172, it was the convergence.
Joe could see with his own eyes again, the knowledge and understanding from his own time, his own place, a place before UFC 172, all contained within him. His wings felt caged, his talons tied down. He pushed his beak into the walls, pecking through the window. It split open, creating a path. Joe pushed forward, erupting from Dana’s right eye, a trail of blood, chains and reason in his wake, taking flight. The view from on high showed the world to be an Octagon, trapped within another Octagon.
He cawed, flying around the head of Jon Jones, the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, before taking flight to the next Octagon, to find the titan that was Ronda Rousey. He had never felt this free, even with the chain around his talon, even knowing the confines of the Octagon. He was free, at last.
This is a short story that originally ran on MiddleEasy on April 27, 2014.