UFC 269 fighters ranked according to whether we think they committed this murder on a train

A bone-chilling shriek in the night. Hurried footsteps down the corridor. Click-clack, click-clack, goes the train. Rumbling along the tracks toward the next station. But something is amiss aboard this first-class carriage. There’s been a murder! MMA media luminary Ariel Helwani lies dead in his sleeper compartment, and everyone on the UFC 269 fight card is a potential suspect.

But who did it? You, the intrepid detective, must solve the case. One by one you bring the fighters into the dining car to question them. And a few emerge as prime suspects…

Charles Oliveira
He slides into the booth across from you without removing his sunglasses and immediately begins picking at your German chocolate cake with his fork as you question him. Where was he during the night? “Sleeping,” he tells you via an interpreter. Did he not wake with all the commotion? “Airpods,” comes the reply. “Whale songs every night, bro.” But surely he had his disagreements with Helwani over the years. The champ only shrugs and answers in English, “I like Schmo. Schmo is funnier to me.” And it’s true he does seem awfully relaxed during this interrogation. But perhaps that is part of his ruse…

You dismiss him back to his compartment just before the doctor on board tells you that he has completed his examination of the body and found signs of strangulation. Curious. Anything else, you ask? Just this, he replies, holding up a single black olive. “I found it in Monsieur Helwani’s breast pocket.”

Julianna Pena
“Helwani? No, the name does not sound familiar,” she says, sliding into her seat dressed head to toe in fur. Surely madam, you tell her, she is joking, no? “What did you say his first name was again?” she asks while sipping from her vodka tonic. Ariel, you say. The interview guy? The one she’s talked to dozens of times over the years? Everyone knows him. And now he has been murdered. “A pity,” she says while stabbing at the ice in her drink with a little black straw.

What game is she playing here? It’s not possible that she doesn’t remember him … is it? And merely pretending to forget the man would only make her look more guilty. Unless she’s covering for someone else…

“Oh, I did hear one strange thing in the night, now that you mention,” she says. “Footsteps. Heavy footsteps. But the pattern was uneven. As if a large man were running past my door wearing only one shoe.”

Very interesting, you say. Only you hadn’t asked about sounds in the night. You hadn’t even mentioned it.

Tai Tuivasa
Shirtless, disheveled, with the bags under his eyes screaming ‘hangover,’ he plops himself down across from you. “Last night?” he says. “Nah, I didn’t hear anything last night. Course, I sleep pretty hard after fourteen to eighteen beers.” Of course, you say. And how else do those beers affect him, you ask. “What you mean?” he replies. “You mean like, by making me happy and such?” Happy, yes. But also perhaps violent? Gripped by an uncontrollable rage? Here he flashes his boyish smile. “Aw, yeah. That too,” he says, looking directly into your eyes. “But that part’s always there.”

As he walks off you can’t help but notice the wet squishing sound coming from one of his shoes.

Cody Garbrandt
“I’ll tell you where I was,” he says, staring longingly at the cake in front of you but holding tight to his own hands, as if he’s frightened they might reach out of their own accord. “I was the same place I am every night: hanging with the boyyyssss.” And did he hear or see anything strange before or after Helwani was killed? Well actually, Garbrandt replies, he did poke his head out of his compartment when he heard a strange sound. “But it was dark,” he says. “All I could see was a silhouette. It was in the shape of a big curly mop of hair.”

Sean O’Malley
The odor of marijuana precedes him into the dining car. Then a man – half scarecrow, half clown in appearance – slides lithely into the booth. Before you can even ask a question he opens his mouth. “In my mind, I’ve never murdered anybody,” he says. Then the two of you just stare at one another for what feels like a very long time. Finally it is he who breaks the silence. “You know who’s a dick,” he says, “is Cruz.”

Dominick Cruz
“Why would I kill Helwani? I’ve always liked him. Well, maybe ‘like’ is too strong a word. But I don’t hate him. He does his research. I respect a man who does his research. That’s more than you can say for some people.” He goes on like this for the next half-hour until you finally dismiss him, your head aching from the constant prattle of his voice. It’s only when he’s gone that the conductor hands you the train’s original manifest. It seems Monsieur Helwani was a late addition after that compartment became available at the last minute due to a cancellation. “And the passenger who was originally supposed to be sleeping in that compartment?” you ask. The conductor flips the pages on his clipboard. “Ah, here it is,” he says. “A Monsieur Daniel Cormier.”

Randy Costa
“You don’t even know who I am, do you?” he says. You realize you’ve been zoning out, sitting there without asking a single question. It’s true, you admit. You don’t know him. Is he on this card? “Yes!” he replies. “I’m fighting Tony Kelley on the prelims?” Nothing. “I’m 2-2 in the UFC?” Nope. “My nickname is ‘The Zohan’?” Ah, right. That one. No further questions. He may go.

Dustin Poirier
Well, that’s strange. You didn’t ask to interrogate him. “I know you didn’t,” he says. “What, you don’t think I could have done it?” It’s true, you don’t. “Is it because I’m too nice a guy?” he says. That’s exactly why. “Yeah, OK, fine. But what if I’ve just been faking it all this time? What if it’s all just so I could strangle this fucking guy and get away with it?” Who told him Helwani had been strangled, you ask. A smile tugs at one corner of his mouth. “Oh, I hear things,” he says. “I hear all sorts of things.”

Now then. All the potential suspects have been heard from. And the train is pulling into the station. Who did it?? (Scroll down for the answer key)

They all did it. Of course. You never read Agatha Christie? All of them. Except for Randy Costa. We still don’t really know who that is.

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