Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

The timing of Jon Jones’ plea bargain couldn’t have been any worse for Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson.

People were already looking down their noses at Saturday’s UFC 192 main event, when Cormier will face Gustafsson in the first defense of his newly won and fiercely disputed light heavyweight title.

They were already saying this bout and that belt were a sham—and that was before Jones’ seemingly precarious legal snarl stemming from an April hit-and-run accident wrapped itself up in a neat little bow.

Jones skated out of the Albuquerque, New Mexico, district court on Tuesday with no jail time, no fine and no felony conviction after a judge accepted his compromise with prosecutors.

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

A lot of moving pieces—that’s the best way to describe the light heavyweight division as UFC 192 approaches.

Daniel Cormier was poised to make the first defense of his 205-pound title against Alexander Gustafsson when an Albuquerque judge on Tuesday cleared the way for former champion Jon Jones to return to the Octagon.

That means not only are Cormier and Gustafsson now fighting over an extra disputed version of the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on Saturday, but they might each be vying for a rematch with Jones too. While it’s still too early to tell, it’s tough to imagine the 205-pound GOAT will be out much longer.

In addition to that, former champion Rashad Evans finally returns from a lengthy injury timeout. He’ll meet Ryan Bader in what could turn out to be a No. 1 contender fight. At the very least, the winner will be right there nipping at the heels of whoever emerges from the Cormier-Gustafsson-Jones love triangle with the belt.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The People vs. Jon Jones came to its anticlimactic but inevitable end this week, as the once and likely future UFC light heavyweight champion took a plea deal Tuesday.

In an Albuquerque, New Mexico, courtroom, Jones pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, thereby ending his five months in legal limbo. He'll serve no jail time. Instead he'll do up to 18 months of supervised probation and make 72 personal appearances as community service.

"I'm here to accept full responsibility for what happened and my actions," Jones told district court judge Charles Brown before his plea agreement was approved. "I hope you guys can give me the opportunity to redeem myself."

A few minutes later, Brown told him: "Mr. Jones, you got real lucky here."

Ken Ishii/Getty Images

Now this was a heavyweight fight.

For better and worse.

As two of the UFC’s most colorful big men, Josh Barnett and Roy Nelson each emptied his complete bag of tricks on Saturday in Japan at Fight Night 75. Nothing fancy, just a couple of old warhorses letting it all hang out during a surprisingly fun, surprisingly strategic but predictably lowdown, greasy battle over almost absolutely nothing.

When it was over, Barnett won a clear-cut unanimous decision (50-45, 48-47 x 2), though the spoils of victory likely amount to little more than the chance to move a step or two up the UFC’s specious official rankings.

With new heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum on the shelf until next year and contenders already stacked four or five deep, the 37-year-old Barnett remains on the outside looking in for the foreseeable future. He’d need another quality win to join the pack and two or three to climb anywhere near the top.

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

You get the impression neither Josh Barnett nor Roy Nelson is knocking on the door of a UFC heavyweight title shot these days.

You also get the distinct impression both guys are pretty cool with that.

Despite the fact both retain respectable rankings in the puddle-shallow 265-pound division—the 37-year-old Barnett is No. 8 while Nelson, who is 39, is ranked No. 11—their very existence feels independent of the heavyweight rat race.

And, yes, that’s absolutely meant as a compliment to this pair of MMA iconoclasts as they enter the twilight of their long, strange careers. It means fans continue to follow and care about them despite the fact neither is about to climb aboard a bullet train to the top.

Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

When the Nevada Sate Athletic Commission abruptly outlawed testosterone replacement therapy on February 27, 2014, UFC President Dana White said he was overjoyed.

"[I'm] pumped!" White wrote in a text message to MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani that day, while the fight company issued its own blanket ban on the controversial medical treatment. "Couldn't wait for that garbage to go away."

More than 18 months later, as the fallout from MMA’s TRT era continues to weave a tangled web, one of the few things we can probably still take at face value is White’s genuine, full-hearted relief at being done with it.

It now appears all that “garbage” was a far bigger headache for UFC executives than we ever knew before.

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

The UFC’s comeback tour is almost in the books.

As noted last month, America’s largest MMA promoter is on the verge of completing a full-scale turnaround after a tough 2014. With strong box office showings from new stars like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, it’s possible this year might prove to be the UFC’s best on pay-per-view since the halcyon days of Brock Lesnar.

Hard to believe, but since the publication of that initial story, the fight company’s 2015 outlook grew even rosier. It bumped Rousey’s title defense against Holly Holm up from UFC 195 on January 2, 2016 to UFC 193 on November 15, thereby assuring itself something close to a million extra PPV buys (give or take a few hundred thousand) for this calendar year.

The rest of the UFC’s end-of-the-year slate also filled in, and it looks—in a word—awesome.

Bellator MMA

It didn’t take long for Phil Davis’ gamble in Bellator MMA to come up aces.

One night, two fights, just over seven minutes of action.

That’s all it took for Davis to seize No. 1 contender status in the Bellator light heavyweight division on Saturday, as he notched two emphatic victories in the company’s one-night 205-pound tournament.

As the tourney favorite, it wasn’t shocking to see Davis emerge triumphant from the four-man bracket.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

The honeymoon is over.

When the UFC revealed the particulars of its new in-house drug-testing program at a press conference in June, the fight company enjoyed nearly unanimous approval.

It was an impressive show of force—a lineup of UFC executives flanked on stage by their new partners at the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Jeff Novitzky, the former government agent hired to be the fight company's drug czar, was there. USADA CEO Travis Tygart (pictured above) was there. Even American Olympic track and field legend Edwin Moses was there.

Together they laid out a hard-nosed array of policy reforms they said would turn up the heat on drug cheats.

“Our goal is to have the best anti-doping program in all of professional sport,” Novitzky said.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

We haven’t heard the last of John Dodson.

That was the message from Dodson and his camp last weekend in the immediate wake of his unanimous-decision loss to flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC 191. The 30-year-old Albuquerque, New Mexico, native known for his boundless energy and mammoth grin wasn’t about to hang his head.

"I'm going to make sure I can come back and come back stronger," Dodson said at the post-fight press conference. "If [UFC president Dana White] gives me the opportunity to beat up a whole bunch of people who seem worthy to fight Demetrious, I will do it. I will make sure that I can make another title run."

Dodson’s determination is admirable—especially since his second loss to Johnson left him in a most unenviable position for the top-ranked 125-pound contender.