What do the retirement of Randy Couture, the two losses apiece for Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin, and the lack of respect for Matt Hughes as a coach have in common?
Sitting back in my chair, I started to ponder these issues. First I was looking at them as individual events with no connection at all. Then it hit me like a Liddell right hook:
Could they all be a result of the same thing?
Is it just a new generation of fighters emerging to replace the old guard?
I've stated before that a competitive fighter has a shelf life of X number of years. Could it be that it's just time for a change?
For years, there were a few completely dominant fighters—Rich Franklin, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Matt Hughes. None of these guys currently hold a title (although Couture just retired as the champ).
Is the disappointing performance of "Team Hughes" on The Ultimate Fighter due to a lack of respect for a fighter who's directly responsible for the sport's popularity?
Are the new fighters really that much better?
I don't think so. Matt Hughes will put my theory to the test when he gets a title shot with fellow coach Matt Serra.
I may sound like an old man longing for the "good old days," but I'm still going to say it:
If these older fighters can return to their earlier training, they'll rise back to the top.
I like having a dominant champ—fans in general like having a recognizable and likable person as a spokesman for their sport. But can this really happen?
Matt Hughes may give us an idea of the answer in UFC 79.
Until then, I hope this article stimulates some interesting discussion among the loyal MMA fans out there.
Remember, keep your hands up and your chin down!