Objectively, tonight was a great night of fights. There were some great finishes, great battles, and many people will remember this card for years to come. However, when it comes to the subjective, the card has left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. Not because Jon Jones won. He took the title with great skill, athleticism, and natural physical gifts. The reason is due to the fact that PRIDE is dead, and Dana White's newest investment drove in the final coffin nail.
Truthfully, this is something that's been building up for a while. It's hard to say when it all really started, but there's a lot of key losses since the PRIDE acquisition that stick out in my mind. Forrest Griffin beating Shogun and Rampage, Gonzaga KOing Cro Cop, and others that I'm missing as well. It seemed to be that home-grown UFC talent was putting away some of the best that PRIDE had to offer. However, there was a glimmer of hope when Shogun took it to Machida, and then flattened him at UFC 113. Maybe there was still a chance that PRIDE's fighters could still give 110 percent and win world titles.
Well, that all died tonight. The big omen was Cro Cop eating the canvas once again, but this time after putting in a fairly decent effort against Brendan Schaub. Then, Jones stepped in against Shogun, and brutalized my favorite fighter of all time. It was hard for me to watch, and after Herb Dean stopped it, I went on Twitter and told Dana White to fuck off. Granted, it was all an emotional reaction, but it was there. However, after a little cool-down that had me hitting the bench press like a madman for a little bit, I realized exactly why I was so upset.
Like many an MMA fan, I started my love of the sport with PRIDE. The first fight I ever watched was a replay of Shogun destroying Rampage. It's a sentimental thing. Much as I hate to say it, the old days are over. The old PRIDE fighters will keep fighting, but I don't see them really competing with someone like Jon Jones, who could easily go to Heavyweight and be competitive there as well (and maybe win the title, though it would be quite a bit more difficult).
Much as I hate to say it, the new era of MMA is in full swing. Congratulations to Jon Jones. He not only defeated someone who is arguably one of the top 3 205ers ever, but he did it impressively. Thing is, it's a hard pill to swallow when you have to admit that greats like Shogun, Big Nog, Cro Cop, Fedor, and others are no longer the top of the heap anymore. The writer in me is eager to see how the sport will develop, but the PRIDE fan in me is going to be a little bummed for a couple days.
At least Overeem's still kicking some ass.