Can a mixed martial arts name last through the ages? This is a question that's been on my and my friends mind for some time and when it does get brought up, it instantly starts a debate. We first started talking about it with the celebration of UFC 20 years anniversary. Excited as i was to see all the legends showing up for the celebration, doing interviews etc i couldn't help but notice that while watching some people would go, who's that? Who are these fighters? Have they fought in the UFC?
Who really knows about Mark Coleman, Royce Gracie and Dan Severn? I Would believe that mostly hardcore fans do, while casual fans don't really know who these guys are and what they've done. Granted, these guys are from an era when UFC and MMA in general wasn't as big as it is today but...will people remember Anderson Silva, Georges St Pierre or Bj Penn long after they are gone? What is it that makes legacys last?
If i would instead ask, who knows who Mike Tyson and Muhammed Ali is today? The answer would most definitely be everyone. Even MMA fans that never been in to boxing and just follows MMA as a sport knows who these guys are. Kids in school knows who they are. So i wonder if Fedor's name or any other past or future MMA legends name can last the way these boxers names does.
The reason i think why generation after generation grows up knowing who Mike Tyson is, is because they can watch highlights of his fights or old collections of his fights and go, holy crap that's impressive! And that til now have never changed. The reason for this is that boxing is boxing, boxing is more or less the same today as it was 20 years ago and it will be more or less the same in 20 years from now. It's always the same concept. What Mike Tyson did back in his era is still today impressive, it can still to this day blow peoples minds. Can that be said for lets say Anderson Silva?
I dont think so, Silva's front kick against Vitor Belfort back then blew peoples minds, it was impressive, it was back then a move never seen before in the octagon. But today...today we see front kicks being used all the time. We've seen plenty of front kicks with knockouts and we will most likely see more in the future. Today that kick is not as mind blowing as it was back then and in the future it might even be a common technique.
The thing about mixed martial arts is that it is a changing concept, it constantly evolves and changes, improves and new styles, moves and talents are being brought in. Every time you see a new event there is a possibility that you might see something that you've never seen before. That is the main reason why i love this sport so much, but it is the same reason in my mind why big names from MMA wont last. If someone shows a highlight of Anderson Silva's front kick 20 years from now to a new fan of the sport, will he be as blown away as the people who watched it when it happend? No, i think there's a good chance he will say, thats nothing...check this out instead. And that's what it's been like, Tito Ortiz GnP is not as impressive today as it was back then but a Mike Tyson highlight certainly is.
The best thing about MMA is that it does change and evolve, in a fast rate too. It's what keeps the sport so exciting and fun to watch. We see new talents and moves every generation from Anderson Silva, Bj Penn and GSP to now Jon Jones, Renan Barao and Michael McDonald. As brilliant as that is, it's also a fighters legacy worst enemy. What was so impressive back then is not gonna be as impressive today and what is so impressive today, wont be in the future. There are so many martial arts and so many different aspects to the sport that can be combined in so many different ways that i just see all the new talent taking the sport to a completely new level each time that it will inevitably kill off the old legends and new fans wont be impressed by what they've done.
Perhaps im wrong, but i think its gonna take a lot for a MMA fighter to achiv the same ''immortality'' to their name as boxers like Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson did.