In my opinion, the history of MMA can be broken down into four different periods: The Early Years, The Dark Ages, The Golden Age, and the Modern Era. While there are some fans who have followed the sport from the very beginning, most began their fandom either in the Golden Age or Modern Era.
I was able to see some of the early years of MMA because of an illegal satellite dish that my parents had. I was able to see Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock rule the world as the best fighters on the planet. I got to see Harold Howard do his summersault kick and say "If you're coming on, then COME ON!" And I was able to see Mark Coleman and Don Frye fight in an absolute early classic. Unfortunately, my family made the switch to standard cable and when the UFC was off Pay Per View, I fell out of touch with the spectacular sport. Instead, I became a child of the Attitude Era of the WWF and the Monday Night wars with their arch rival WCW.
For six years, MMA didn't exist in my mind, at least not until I went to UFC 32 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Tito Ortiz defended his Light Heavyweight Belt against Elvis Sinosic and BJ Penn absolutely starched Din Thomas in under three minutes. Growing up in New Jersey had a bit of a benefit as most of those UFC events were held either in Atlantic City or in East Rutherford. The event was great but it still failed to reignite the passion in MMA. No, my reintroduction, like many fans, was the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and after the absolute classic between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffen, it became an obsession.
I grew into this sport watching Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, and Randy Couture fight. I'd scour the internets for videos from Japan to see Wanderlei Silva fight against Quinton Jackson and Ricardo Arona. I'd get into arguments on the UG and Sherdog forums about how Andrei Arlovski was the only fighter who truly could best Fedor Emelianenko. These were the heros of my youth, the fighters who ruled the ring and the cage and were seemingly invincible. Fast forward to 2010 and every fighter had fallen.
Chuck Liddell, once known for his knockout power and ability to dish and take punishment, was knocked out in three consecutive fights and forced to retire. Randy Couture, the man who appeared to have defeated Father Time looked sluggish and unable to utilize the clinch against Lyoto Machida, losing by a stunning Crane Kick knockout. Andrei Arlovski's chin, always suspected to be weak, failed him in fights with Fedor, Brett Rogers, and Sergei Kharitonov. Even Fedor, once considered the best fighter in the world, would fall to both Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva.
UFC 132 was special not just for the Bantamweight title fight, which turned out to be an absolute classic. But also because it was supposed to be Tito Ortiz and Wanderlei Silva's swan song. Wanderlei Silva had been through some wars in PRIDE and his style of boxing required him to be able to take damage in order to give it. Tito Ortiz was publicly put on notice that if he lost, it would be the end of his storied UFC career. Many felt that this would be the last time we'd see either fighter. While Tito Ortiz survived to live another day in the UFC, last night very well could and should be the last time we see Wanderlei Silva. Silva was put down by Chris Leben in under 30 seconds. The same Chris Leben who has always choked when given the opportunity to move up the ranks.
This summer we will see Dan Henderson fight Fedor Emelianenko at Strikeforce Chicago as well as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira take on Brendan Schaub in Rio De Janeiro at UFC: Rio. No matter the outcome, this year may be the death of the Golden Age of Mixed Martial Arts. Big Nog and Fedor may very well retire after their fights and the rest of the veteran fighters have slowly become worn out and unable to compete at the highest levels. Enjoy the fights while you can, this could be the last time you ever see these all time greats.
More BE UFC 132 Coverage after the jump.
- Post-Fight Recap and Analysis - Mike Fagan
- The Day MMA Won The Combat Sports War - Josh Nason
- Why the Bantamweight Division Needs Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber 3 - Fraser Coffeen
- Bloody Elbow Radio UFC 132 Review
- Dominick Cruz Defeats Urijah Faber By Decision - Josh Nason
- Post-Fight Press Conference Video
- Chris Leben Knocks Out Wanderlei Silva In 27 Seconds - Josh Nason
- Tito Ortiz Fends Off Retirement - Matt Bishop
- Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader Fight Video Highlights - ESPN
- Tito Ortiz Submits Ryan Bader In The First Round - Josh Nason
- Dennis Siver Defeats Matt Wiman By Close Decision - Josh Nason
- Carlos Condit Knocks Out Dong Hyun Kim In The First Round - Josh Nason
- Melvin Guillard Knocks Out Shane Roller In First Round - Josh Nason
- Rafael dos Anjos Knocks Out George Sotiropoulos In 59 Seconds - Josh Nason
- Brian Bowles Defeats Takeya Mizugaki by Unanimous Decision - Leland Roling
- Anthony Njokuani Dominates Andre Winner - Leland Roling
- Aaron Simpson Puts Brad Tavares Through the Grinder - Leland Roling
- Jeff Hougland Showcases Diverse Skills, Decisions Donny Walker - Leland Roling