Sunday, December 23, 2012

All good things must come to an end

All good things must come to an end. I've realized this more than ever this past week as I've been suffering from a severe case of empty nest syndrome since my daughter moved out of state to go to school. I wish I could keep her here close to me, but just like everything else that is prosperous and grows, it's her time to move on.

Though totally different, such is the case with mixed martial arts; especially in the UFC. 2012 was a year that marked the end of an era; the post-TUF era that began in 2005. It is also the year a generation of fighters from the pre-TUF era have either said goodbye to the sport or are soon to be on their way out.

The most recent indication of such is highlighted in the photo above where the legend known as 'The Prodigy' BJ Penn was sadly and unmercifully beat up for three rounds a couple of weeks back by young welterweight (170 lbs.) contender Rory MacDonald. Penn (16-9), who began his MMA and UFC career way back in May 2001, is just (1-4-1) in his last six fights; a testament that as great as Penn is, at just 34 years old, the game has passed him by.

Some may try to argue that it is because he is fighting above his prime weight class, which is lightweight (155 lbs.). However, I'll remind you that two of those recent four losses came at 155 to Frankie Edgar; part of the new generation of MMA fighters that have ushered in a new era of MMA. Yet Penn is far from the only Pre and Post TUF generation fighter that has succumbed to the evolution of MMA in 2012.

This year has seen the retirements of future Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz (16-11), who ended his career just (1-7-1) in his last nine fights; Mark Hominick (20-12), who lost his last four fights in a row after a run to a title shot and Stephen Bonnar (15-8), one half of the duo responsible for ushering in the post-TUF era in 2005. Bonnar went a mere (3-4) in his last seven.

Bonnar's TUF counterpart and the other half of the duo mentioned above, Forrest Griffin (19-7), is only (3-3) in his last six and has already hinted at retirement. Penn's nemesis and Ortiz's contemporary Matt Hughes (45-9), another fighter who has talked retirement and has not fought in over a year is only (4-5) in his last nine fights. Finally, there is living legend Wanderlei Silva (34-12), but only (3-7) in his last 10.

All of the fighters mentioned above, less Bonnar and Griffin, are legends in the sport. Bonnar and Griffin meanwhile, have cemented their own legacy with their 2005 classic TUF championship that is widely considered the number one fight in MMA history; Griffin also went on to become a UFC champion. Yet, as great as they all were, they are no longer "great." They are just good, even average in some cases and that is due to the ascension of the sport.

In just 19 years mixed martial arts has already had four different eras and is now heading into its fifth. There was the 'Pioneering era' from '93-'98. Then there was the "Dark era" from '99-'00. That was followed by the pre-TUF era from '01-'04 and the post-TUF era from '05-'12.

Now in 2013 it's the new generation of evolution that is taking over with fighters such as Jon Jones, Benson Henderson, Jose Aldo and the aforementioned Edgar at the forefront of the movement leading the way. Jones, Henderson and Aldo are all champions, while Edgar is a former champ, in their early to mid 20's that are a new breed of MMA fighter that have taken the sport to a whole new level; a level that has surpassed our heroes of the last decade and that's okay because all good things must come to an end.

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