UFC: Jon Jones vs. Chuck Liddell Is Pure Silliness

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2014

Jon Jones is seen in the ring before his UFC 159 Mixed Martial Arts light heavyweight title bout in Newark, NJ, Saturday, April 27,2013.  Jones retained his title via first round TKO. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Bad news, everyone.

No matter how much people hate Jon Jones or how much they love Chuck Liddell, their feud is among the silliest things in MMA since Dana White had hair. It's a waste of everyone's time to listen to it, and a waste of breath for those involved to even talk about it. Everything about it is just plain silly.

On one hand you have Jones, a dominant champion presently on track to be the greatest fighter who ever lived by the end of 2015.

On the other you have Liddell, a guy who was as great as great could be in his prime, but who's been out of the game almost as long as Jones has been in it.

The idea of them meeting under any circumstance is some blend of idiotic, fantastical, delusional and maddening, depending on how one would choose to frame it. It's the type of thing that does no good for anyone.

Yes, it's borne of the same competitive fire that made Liddell great. He couldn't help but give his particularly scathing opinions of Jones when asked, both because his buddy Glover Teixeira was prepping to fight him and also because he genuinely feels that way.

As both a good teammate and a great warrior, he honestly thinks that he would have beat Jones in his prime and he honestly thought that Teixeira was the next best guy to do it if he couldn't.

UFC 172 showed the latter to be incorrect, and a little observation could prove the former wrong as well.

In his prime, Liddell never fought someone with the athletic or physical tools that Jones has, much less someone with his unique blend of learned skills. There's no concrete comparison there to be made with an opponent from Liddell's prime, because one doesn't exist.

That applies on a broader scale as well: An individual opponent from Liddell's prime doesn't exist as a comparison to Jones because nobody like Jones has ever existed.

This is not a singular thing that's unique to Liddell's career; it's a sport-wide phenomenon. Jones is the first guy like Jones, so there's no blueprint for how Liddell would match up with him.

Extrapolate that point a little further though, and you get the foundation of an argument as old as sport itself: Old School versus New School. Can the people or teams from our past compete with the people or teams of today?

How long have such arguments existed? How many times have you and a friend argued over Tyson vs. Ali or some other variation, perhaps replacing boxers with football teams or basketball teams?

Probably hundreds.

What makes this hypothetical Jones-Liddell beef a little different, though, is the rapid evolution of a sport as young as MMA. Techniques are being adapted and innovated on a card-to-card basis in modern MMA, fighters drawing on hundreds of years of martial arts information and applying it to a sport that's still just 20 years old.

To put it mildly, what it takes to be a champion today is vastly different than what it took to be a champion in Liddell's day. And though that day isn't even a decade ago, it's still nearly half the life of the sport ago.

Think about that.

Do you think that the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks, winners of the Stanley Cup as hockey's best team, would beat the 1944 Montreal Canadiens, who did the same in their generation, under modern rules in the modern era?

Most certainly.

And comparatively that's the question you're asking of a hypothetical fight between Jones and Liddell. It's a question that, if we're all being honest here, we already know the answer to, too.

Who knows where it came from or why it became a thing, but it did. People were almost as interested in Jones fighting Liddell as they were in watching him fight Teixeira, and truthfully the pay-per-view numbers probably would have tripled if that'd been the fight headlining UFC 172.

The bottom line though? It's silly. It's a waste of time.

So let's all just agree to focus more on actual fights that actually might happen and actually matter.

Liddell is gone and Jones is here, and no amount of mythical matchmaking is going to change that.


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