One of the scariest and saddest things for a sports fan to go through is the process of the changing of the guard. The time when many of your favorite stars are aging, declining and getting beaten like you have never seen them beaten before.
The UFC is experiencing a large changing of the guard in 2011 with legend retirements and losses mounting as the holiday season approaches. This year has seen the retirement of such notables as Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell (officially Dec 29th, 2010), Chris Lytle and most recently Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic.
Along with the retirement of those fan favorites, Matt Hughes, Wanderlei Silva, Kenny Florian and BJ Penn have all pondered or are pondering calling an end to their respective careers. It is a tough jab to slip for an older fan who has fallen in love with the UFC on the visions and backs of these men. It makes you reflect and wonder if your passion to tune in and follow will remain as strong once the last of your favorites rides off into the sunset.
But wait, experience as a broad sports fan has told me that all is not doom and gloom when a changing of the guard takes place. I am an NHL fan almost as passionately as I am a fan of MMA and the UFC and I survived a very similar shift on the NHL a few years ago.
Gone were my favorites Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman and Dougie Gilmour and I was left depressed, feeling my passion to watch was in jeopardy for the first time in my life. Well, tuning in to a couple of games or highlight reels featuring Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Shea Weber and Jonathon Toews cured me of the malaise and my NHL passion is very much alive and well.
The show will go on, it will just feature different stars and the same can be said with the shifting of the UFC.
Carrying on is the heart and drive of a Frankie Edgar, the integrity and class of a Cain Velasquez and the incredible new skill of a Jon Jones.
I'll admit, it has been a tough year for this old school man seeing Wanderlei Silva, BJ Penn and Matt Hughes get beaten down by the younger and up and coming fighter. Following all sports as long as I have teaches you that new and exciting athletes are always in the pipeline and a changing of the guard is not even close to the end of the world.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and correspondent for MMACanada.net.