At the highest point of mixed martial arts, atop most pound for pound lists, the most elite representation of the sport is that of Georges "Rush" St. Pierre. He seems an immovable obstacle on so many levels that one wonders who, when, and how he will meet his most dangerous challenge.
There will come a time where the waves of time will draw away his excellence. One stroke at a time his talent will wash away. Wave by wave he will become less than the great champion that he is today. The inevitability of his end as an elite competitor will come, and it will become the one foe he can not overcome.
When that time comes the fight fans will look back and reflect upon GSP's elite fighting career, smile to themselves, and thank the MMA gods that they were kind enough to allow his reign to take place in their lifetime.
Such has been the story for many a great champion over almost two decades of mixed martial arts evolution. Surely, long before evolution was seen as the centerpiece of the sport, many felt Royce Gracie or Don Frye would go down as the best ever.
When the evolution began it was only a matter of time before elite turned to obsolete. That story will never change, MMA will always turn the page. Like it did against guys like Gracie, it has done the same to many warriors over the sport's history.
As the thundering sound of time marching on begins to echo louder in the ears of the fan fortunate enough to lay eyes on those storied careers, they have to wonder who will succumb next and who will take the place of today's elite?
At this stage in the sport of MMA, the fan who has been paying full attention has been fortunate enough to bare witness to the second generation of fighters who slammed their fist on the table and demanded respect. These warriors who fashioned an expectation of multi-pronged approaches and diversity are now approaching the end of their careers.
And the future that once seemed so far away is upon the sport today. So is the next generation of evolution, Jose Aldo anyone?
Looking back at the glory days of Pride, many great stories are there to be told and remembered. Guys like Wanderlei Silva, Rampage, Hendo, and Fedor Emelianenko were the story across the sport.
Half way across the globe, the UFC was countering that greatness with names like Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, and Matt Hughes. It may not seem that long ago, but in mixed martial arts years it was a lifetime.
Who ever thought Matt Hughes would fall off as he did? Who ever once entertained the idea that Wanderlei Silva would ever be anything less than lethal? Did anyone ever really think that after "The Iceman" relinquished his throne that not one man would be able to go on a title run to rival the likes of his?
It is truly heartbreaking to sit by and watch as the decay of time grounds and pounds our favorite warriors into submission. Many will jump to slinging proverbial crap like monkeys bored at the zoo. Those who truly appreciate the sport will pay the respect that has been earned and honor the sacrifices made for no one other then the fans themselves.
See it's mixed martial arts to those of you who think it's all about you and your opinions. For those of you who value your own two cents above what is really taking place in and across this sport both today and historically, you might do good to take a moment and appreciate exactly what it is that you're seeing.
Honor and respect are very important components to the martial arts aspect of MMA. It would do you good to take a moment and learn to appreciate that as you continue to support this sport. It isn't taught to every child growing up, but it can be learned by anyone.
What you're witnessing today is not washed up has been fighters clinging to the threads of a once worth while career. What you're witnessing today is the effect of proud and relentless warriors who risked it all to prove to you and the world that their game is as elite as any other one can name. What you're witnessing today is the end of an era.
It may not sit well with every fan looking on, as they are asked to shell out their hard earned recession money to support this sport and those who make it up. Yet the thing to remember is those warriors you turn your nose up at so readily, paved the way for the guys you're willing to drop your money to watch moving forward.
Guys like Wand and Nog, or Chuck and Franklin, they built this house and laid a foundation of respect, tradition, and quality. That call has been answered by guys like GSP and guys like Jon Jones.
Those young warriors will gladly take the torch with honor as the heroes of yesterday pass it forward. And judging the character of the fighter of tomorrow as represented by a champion like Jose Aldo or GSP, it is very promising indeed to contemplate what the future may hold. The next generation will follow their lead and that is a promising thing.
See, it is time that has melted away the reflex necessary, it is time that has shortened the punch ever so slightly, it is time that has worn away at the razors edge it took to mold these warriors into what we remember them as.
Hopefully, time will also teach you, the shortsighted, to pay respect where it is owed. Their fights of today may not be worth your money, but they are damn sure worth your respect.
In closing, think about the great Yankee, “The Iron Horse" Lou Gehrig. When his time had come it was not his fall that was revered, it was his legend that fans celebrated. That legend lives on today decades later because of his accomplishments not his fall from glory. The basis of that legend started with the appreciation of his fans, not their discontent with what he could no longer do for them.
Support them MMA fan, don't discredit them, because time was the only thing they could not beat for you.
This article originally published at hurtsbad.com