5 Fighters the UFC Will Have a Hard Time Replacing
Randy Couture will be starring in the upcoming film The Expendables 2 but there is nothing expendable about the man in the MMA world.
Couture and a few other MMA fighters possess a rare blend of talents both inside and outside the Octagon. Not only can they wow us each time they compete but also can make us hang on every word once a microphone is placed in front of them.
It's not easy being a top-level fighter and having the communications skills necessary to talk fluently in front of a camera. Even the fighters on this list that haven't achieved the highest honor of being called "UFC Champion" are still invaluable to the company for their articulate speaking abilities.
Whether they made their mark in MMA history with their fists or words, all of these men are going to be tough to replace once they step away from the game.
Say what you want about Chael Sonnen's failed attempts to take down Anderson Silva but the man has become an iconic figure in MMA with his words. During his rivalry with Silva he became a virtual quote machine, ready to spew out a list of one-liners guaranteed to make headlines.
It's one thing to talk smack about your opponent—that's something we've come to accept as the norm in MMA—but Sonnen took it one step further by creating an entirely different character to make his fame. Not only was Sonnen able to create the enigma known as "Chael P. Sonnen" but he was also able to keep up with the charade for nearly two years.
Post-Silva it seems Sonnen has become an integral part of the UFC's broadcasts on FUEL TV, FX and Fox which shouldn't be overlooked as an invaluable quality for the company. As a former politician Sonnen knows how to navigate the murky waters of public speaking and provides excellent analysis during his time on the set.
What? How can a guy who hasn't been relevant in the title picture since Anderson Silva became champion be difficult to replace? The answer is quite elementary actually.
Rich Franklin is in the twilight years of what is sure to be a Hall of Fame-worthy career which should make him hard to replace on that basis alone. But it's Franklin's ability to be "the company man" that will be hard for Dana White to replace.
Franklin has put his career plans on hold numerous times to face anyone the UFC would ask at a number of different weight limits. If the UFC said jump, Franklin wouldn't even bother asking how far; he'd just do it. It's a mindset that has endeared him not only to UFC brass but the fans as well.
The former math teacher also was instrumental in helping MMA grow as he became a major face once the UFC exploded following first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Franklin has the educational background to retort any argument of MMA fighters being dumb and the speaking ability to do it in an educated manner.
His career won't be filled with an accolade of world titles and monumental victories, but Franklin has had a key part in helping the UFC grow and has helped save a few UFC PPV's in his tenure.
Though Michael Bisping may be the perennial gatekeeper in the middleweight division to some fans, the Brit represents an important piece to the growth of MMA overseas. It's clear the UFC wants to become an international sport and has made multiple trips to the United Kingdom.
Bisping is the face of British MMA and it's hard to find another guy currently on the roster who can carry the torch once Bisping puts down the gloves. He's a brash and confident fighter who's always good for a quote but also comes to fight each time he's in the Octagon.
Although the UFC seems entranced by the dollar signs it sees in Canada at the moment and possibly China in the future, the United Kingdom is still a hotbed for MMA fans. Once Bisping decides to step away from the game it will be hard for the company to find another face that not only can talk the talk but walk the walk as well.
Anderson Silva may have rubbed some fans the wrong way with his two performances against Demian Maia and Thales Leites but there's no denying he's a special talent in the sports world.
Since his arrival in the UFC, Silva has displayed qualities that make him one of a kind in the Octagon. Not only does he have some of the best technique we've ever seen in MMA, he also has some of the best physical attributes as well.
His ability to slip his opponent's punches with ease are reminiscent of Roy Jones Jr. when he was on top and has never been duplicated in MMA. It always appears as if "The Spider" is always one step ahead of his foes which often times leads to a devastating display of violence.
Silva will be hard to replace not because he's defeated everyone put in front of him in the UFC but because he's one of those rare talents that fans know every time Silva steps into the Octagon we are on the verge of watching something special.
Georges St. Pierre
Besides being one of the most dominant champions in UFC history, Georges St. Pierre is also one of its most visible stars.
St. Pierre has conquered everyone in his path during the UFC outside of Matt Hughes and Matt Serra. Even then, St. Pierre so easily dominated the rematches that the first meeting with both are footnotes in one of the greatest careers in MMA history.
GSP also happens to be one of the most visible fighters the sport has. With sponsorship deals with big time companies like Gatorade and Under Armor, St. Pierre has become one of the most marketable fighters in the world. He's been a model of professionalism from day one and is the unofficial poster boy of the UFC.
There will likely be more champions who are just as dominant as St. Pierre was; there's always a bigger fish as the saying goes. But what will be hard to replace is the image that GSP presents. Few fighters are able to keep their cool in such an emotional sport, but St. Pierre continues to provide a blueprint on how to both be professional and make money in the process.