As fans of the combative sports, it’s a very hard thing to see a fighter we like and have rooted for many times to begin a downhill slide; we know it will happen eventually, and sometimes it happens sooner than we expected, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
While MMA fans are dedicated on one hand, they are quick to mock and condemn on the other. Before you know it, this fighter or that champion was never really all that good anyway, and you know it’s true because if it wasn’t they wouldn’t be losing.
It’s the kind of attitude that’s to be expected in the fight game; fans are only human, after all, and it’s far easier to be pessimistic than optimistic.
Still, secretly, many a fan has a special place in their heart for at least one fighter who is struggling, hoping they can find a way to turn the tide and prove all the naysayers wrong. Fans also love to root for the underdog, even if they only do it through gritted teeth.
Perhaps the notion of fighters making comebacks is unconventional from a fan perspective, but it does happen. When a fighter is honest and decides that he still wants to fight more than anything else, it is then that positive change is most likely to occur.
One example of this is Arturo Gatti, who looked like he was simply finished as a boxer—too many wars and too much punishment coupled with a face-first style that simply didn’t have to be so—and thought by many to be too old to change his style.
But change he did, and the comeback was achieved, and we got one of the greatest boxing wars the sport has seen in some years: Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward.
When you consider that boxers take far more punishment in their careers than MMA fighters, the tale of Gatti is inspiring.
So taking that inspiration to heart, here is a list of five fighters who could make a comeback, should they find their dedication equal to their desire.