MMA's Changing of the Guard: A Realization for Even the "Old" Fan

Chris GrayContributor IJanuary 5, 2009

Is it?  Really?  Nawwww, it couldn't be over yet.

I've been thinking back a lot lately to when the UFC and Pride were running so far apart it felt like we would never see our top fighters face each other.  Noguiera/Mir was such a distant dream, not to mention Liddell/Silva or Liddell/Rampage.

I remember Steve & Steve, my two Pride FC OBSESSED friends, bashing the UFC.  To hear them say it, ANY Pride fighter would absolutely destroy his UFC counterpart.

Then the fights started happening.  You could almost see the looks on the former PFC fighters in the cage saying, "Wow, these guys are huge!"  The amateur wrestling influence had pushed the UFC fighters to cut as much weight as possible to get to the lowest weight class they could.

The result?  Fighters like Shogun being outweighed by fighters like Forrest (who walks around reportedly over 230 lbs. well in between fights).  Calling it an advantage almost doesn't seem to fit.  I call it a handicap.

We saw Cro-Cop get his head taken off by Gabriel Gonzaga (another massive size difference against a fighter who refuses to cut, even though he could make 205).  We saw Frank Mir destroy Big Nog on his feet, a feat that even the almighty GOD Fedor couldn't do (again, this is how Steve & Steve thought of him—by the way, I think Arlovski knocks out Fedor).

We saw Forrest choke out Shogun.  We saw Forrest chop Rampage's legs out from under him.  We saw Anderson Silva knock out the iron-jawed Dan Henderson.  We saw Heath Herring and...well...wished we hadn't seen him.  Ever.

And now, to hear people speak of it, the UFC's LW division is unstoppable.  Two years ago, the UFC champ was the ONLY person in most people's Top 10.  Now, in my opinion, the top three PFP people are in the UFC, and only until Frank Mir beats Lesnar again and Fedor loses to AA, then Mir is No. 4 (behind The Spider, GSP, and the Prodigy).

So could it be over?  Could the "dominant" status Pride FC once held in the minds of the old-time fans who knew of MMA before the UFC exploded be over?  It's not just over—just like Tim Sylvia's career, it's buried six feet under.