Ryan Bennett – MMAWeekly.com
They are all legends and they have all produced huge numbers in pay per view buys. They are known on a first name basis worldwide by their legions of fans. Royce, Ken, Tito, Randy, Chuck and Wanderlei. While they have all been dominant fighters in their era, they are all seeing age become a factor as they are all over the age of 30.
Wanderlei Silva and Tito Ortiz are in their early 30’s, but neither one is considered as dominant as they were a year ago. Chuck Liddell seems to have gotten better with age, but Chuck Liddell just turned 36 years old and because of his style, you wouldn’t think he would be able to take the bang’em out style for many more years.
Ken Shamrock at age 42 will get his final fight with Tito Ortiz and may then call it a career. Many people close to Royce Gracie feel he may have fought his last fight vs Hideo Tokoro in last weekend’s K-1 New Years Eve Show. Gracie struggled against a fighter who has traditionally fought in the 155 pound weight class and was just 13-8 in his career entering the bout.
43 year old Randy Couture has had a spectacular career and he is another fighter that many believe will finish his great career in 2006. Some believe his upcoming fight with Chuck Liddell, win or lose, will be his last fight.
In any case 2006 could be the end of an era for some of the most dominant champions the sport has ever seen. While the future appears bright with plenty of new MMA fighters who all cross train in many disciplines, will the new crop of Georges St. Pierre type fighters be as dominant as the ones mentioned above, or will they be more along the lines of Vitor Belfort. Dominant at the beginning of their careers, but never living up to the hall of fame credentials that these champions have shown in their careers.
2006 will probably go down in history as the end of the era for many Hall of Fame fighters. Once dominant, this could be the year that a few legends retire, while the others who were once the most dominant force, may retreat back to the MMA pack as they leave the number 1 or 2 rankings for the 8, 9, or 10 spots. Still respectable, but not as domiant as they once were. 2006 could be the year we see the new breed in all weight classes rise to the top of MMA and become the new face of MMA, while the Liddell’s, Silva’s and Ortiz’s take a back seat to the new breed of young MMA fighters.