Penn, St. Pierre, Silva: Is Domination Holding The UFC Back Or Helping?

Todd JacksonSenior Analyst IDecember 19, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 08:   Lightweight champion BJ Penn (R) battles Kenny Florian during their lightweight championship title bout at UFC 101: Declaration at the Wachovia Center on August 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

dom-i-na-tion:   supremacy or preeminence over another, exercise or mastery of ruling power, see B.J. Penn, Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Brock Lesnar
So you want to be an ultimate fighter?  Take a good long look at the names listed above.  Look deep inside your soul, and ask do I have what it takes to compete with warriors such as these.
Even the most talented, the most proud fighters in the world must feel a chill down their spine when they realize that to become the very best in the sport, they may have to topple one of the previously mentioned dominant UFC champions.
No small order by any stretch of the imagination, no matter how good a fighter might think they are.  The dangerous road that leads to a battle with one of these champions, is littered with pitfalls and risks that can not be avoided.
Let's face it, the champions are elite due to the fires in which their reputations were forged, facing those who were the building blocks of the champion's record.  There are no easy W's at this level.
What has happened over the course of the last five or so years has been the emergence of a different type of fighter.  A new level of fighting dominance, a superior athlete in skill, desire, and heart.  And most important continued success in a sport that is anything but predictable or easy.
There have always been dominant champions, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Lidell come to mind.  But more often than not the line has moved forward around them.  But the landscape of top tier fighters in the organization has never really looked as it does today, immovable at every turn.
The UFC has a crop of champs at the moment that show no signs of slowing down on their championship sprints, sprints that in some cases have become marathons. 
While the battles waged by the champions and their opponents have provided a wealth of entertaining fights, one has to wonder if there is such a thing as too dominant.
When B.J. Penn made his decision to drop down to lightweight, no one could have known the reign of absolute superiority that was about to unfold.  Penn is such a rarity, and his fingerprint will forever be known on not only the LW division but the entire sport. 
His decimation of countless world class competitors has been other worldly.  All the while sitting firmly around his waist, the UFC LW title belt.  All the guys that stood a chance against B.J., or so people might have thought, have been laid to waste.  No true threats to his throne await him, only the next fighters in line.  
A man like GSP was once considered the future of the sport, today is that future so many were pointing to not that long ago.  His utter decimation of anyone who dares set their sights on his cherished belt, has left many on the outside looking wondering what will it take to stop this man.  Or if it can be done at all.
Not even the god like B.J. Penn was able to muster more than some world renowned trash talk, a few take down defenses, and speculation after the fight.  His domination unfortunately for him fell prey to the superior predator in GSP. 
Now, like Penn, GSP has found himself standing over a list of who is who in the WW division of the UFC.  No true challengers are standing on the horizon, none that have proven they truly have what it will take to push the champ.  He stands alone, waiting.
Anderson Silva.  Like a cloud of wasps, Silva has swarmed upon, disoriented, intimidated, and stung every poor soul who thought that they were the one who would stop his title reign.  Outclassing, out working, and in some cases outright embarrassing his opponents has become par for the course.
He is so spectacular in the majority of his victories, it becomes quite a challenge to point to a worthy opponent and keep a straight face.  "The Spider" as he is known, has spun a very dangerous web that will take a special fighter to overcome.  But who will that fighter be?  Is there even such a challenger?
While Lyoto Machida the LHW champ, and Brock Lesnar the HW champ may not have the long title runs that the other fighters have, they have proven that they are not overwhelmed by their roles.
Both men have had their moments of struggle, but have displayed the ability and intent to protect their status as elite fighters with a deep ferocity.  Even before they were champions, fight fans knew in the back of their minds, it was only a matter of time.
These individuals have excelled in a sport that has no team on the playing field.  There are no special teams, no time outs, or replacements to send in at half time, no pinch hitters.  It is three men in a cage, two warriors and a mediator.  It all rests on their shoulders.
As they emerge victorious time and time again, with a relentless pace of history making accomplishments, it almost seems as though the rest of the sport is being left in the dust, outran if you will.
The charge of these historical champions has left behind them a cloud of dust filled with confusion and talented fighters who just slightly aren't good enough. 
Who is really next, who is dangerous enough, who is really worthy of building a whole fight card around with the idea that they may be the one?  Tough questions for matchmaker Joe Silva and the Zuffa Family.
See MMA is like a river, constantly flowing and changing with the landscape.  On that river you have your fighters like logs flowing downstream.  Sometimes those logs pile up and cause a jam but eventually they break free and continue to flow again.
At this time, it would seem those logs have piled up around what appears to be the Hoover Dam of fighters; our current champions.  The damn must be broken down for the sake of forward movement within the sport.  Such a task can not be forced though, someone is going to have to step up and take charge, but who?
If this does not change, it becomes more about individual fighters than it is about the fight itself.  Rest assured the fight itself is what truly drives the sport.  The fighters are the heartbeat, but it is their fights that are the essence, not their names.
It may be amazing to watch Anderson Silva trounce his challengers, but eventually you will want to see him tested, you will want to see him bleed. 
It will take a true fight for that to happen, true war, not just a compelling display of destruction of yet another victim at his hands.  There is no answer or resolution that will negate these facts, or the inability of fighters to challenge these men. 
Many are calling for the champs to mix and match against each other.  Already the rumblings of a third fight between GSP and Penn are growing.  The thought of GSP vs. Silva makes a fight fan salivate like an Alien staring at Sigourney Weaver.  Machida could prove an interesting match for Lesnar were Brock healthy.
All that said, those are all pipe dreams until matches are truly proposed.  Until then, speculation and suggestion is all that will come of the ideas.  Leaving the UFC and its fans back at square one.
Who in tarnation is going to step up and knock one of these guys off?  And if someone doesn't get in there and do it, where does that leave the fighters who have nothing to offer with regard to challenging the unbeatable?
The answer is in the rear view and that would be a detriment to the sport.  For guys like Jon Fitch, Frankie Edgar, Rashad Evans, to be an afterthought is a shame.  They have a lot to offer the sport, they are truly elite. 
It is a sad day when elite can be paled in comparison to unwavering greatness.  When total domination is in the cards, its enough to make one want to fold and pack it in.  The beauty of the sport is though, quitting is not an option. 
In the end it is what it is, and time will tell.