Now I'm not talking about the goatee beard getting longer and the slight ponch that Chuck always seems to display turning into a impressive beer gut.
I'm talking about the evolution of MMA. The leaps and bounds it has made since the days when a street fighter with an arrest record as long as his fight record such as Tank was a serious draw and contender are amazing.
In no way am I saying Chuck, who will always be one of my favourite fighters, is anything like Tank Abbott. My point is the sport may have out grown fighters such as Chuck just as it out grown the street fighters and brawlers like Tank Abbott years ago.
Chuck has never been known for his discipline—he has been seen in casinos and nightclubs the night before a fight in the early hours of the morning. His skill set has been called into question a number of times, although never really tested.
He has always been an outstanding counter fighter and one of the best on his back foot. But, with the evolution of the sport and the new breed of fighters coming through, Chuck will soon look dated—far from a relic but dated none the less.
He will still be a draw and his fight with Wanderlei was reminiscent of Griffin Vs. Bonner One, but the young fighters that now stalk the Light Heavy Weight division are a different breed and lacking only in experience.
Disciplined, hungry, and well rounded—this next generation of fighters are emerging from all over the Globe and it's not enough to just be a tough anymore.
We are at a time when there is a crossover—a passing of the torch. Just as the likes of Chuck Liddell, Randy Courture, and Ken Shamrock rose to the top and became the sports stand out figures leaving people like Tank behind, the new generation of fighters will do the same.
When I write this please don't think I am being disrespectful to the "older generation" of fighters—it's quite the opposite. They made the sport what it is today and I'm sure they are proud of this but also proud to see just how good the athletes that MMA has spawned have become.
Our favourite fighters of the last 10 years are still our heroes but (if they still compete) they are less invincible in this new age of MMA. Just look at Chuck vs. Rashad or Randy vs. Brock.
To close I want to thank The Shamrocks, The Liddells, The Severns, The Coutures—even the Abbotts of the sport—and look forward to the future bouts of the fighters I have mentioned that still compete. Without you the evolution of MMA would never have happened.
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