Ortiz vs Griffin, Old Dogs… Old Tricks
With the hyped return of Tito Ortiz to competition derailed by a very game Forrest Griffin, I can’t help but notice a growing trend in the UFC; you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the call to arms for fans of the Hall of Fame hopeful’s chance to prove they’ve still got it. And in so many cases they do come out and fight their fight, regardless of inactivity or age. The sad truth, however, is while they were vacationing and doing publicity junkets, MMA passed them by. Tito is still the same fighter he was, better in many cases having learned lessons that only years of top level competition can teach. In fact, while Griffin pulled out a convincing decision win over the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy”, this may have been the best I’ve ever seen Ortiz look.
Yet he lost, and would again under the same circumstances. He suffers from the same problem that even Fedor is encountering; younger fighters who have simply been around the sport longer without the bumps along the way. These pioneers are squaring up with kids who grew up watching their favorites dominate single style fights at a time when a gogo-platta wasn’t even thought of yet. This has changed the realm of possibility for all aspiring fighters.
The new generations of fighters are completely aware of all the best techniques available, and due to new training methods are getting very competent in a very short time. This, combined with a total lack of any inhibition regarding the limitations on ones skill set, has created the perfect storm in MMA. The best way to show this is to look at the numbers of fighters who tear ass through the jungle, become new crowned king, and then fall to someone who never had a chance in hell to win by all the experts. Perhaps with three exceptions (Fedor, Anderson Silva, and GSP), all the major dominant fighters will likely fall victim to upset loses and even more embarrassing rematches.
I suppose such is the case for most sports, but where MMA separates its self is in the speed at which fighters seem to mature. You can physically see a difference in the eyes of a fighter after their first match, as if the universe just unfolded before them. These kids are capable of executing nearly every submission, striking combo, take down or defense. They have seen flying knee bars, superman punches, and dirty boxing take their favorite fighters to the winner’s circle too many times over…and now it’s their turn.
I love the fact that no matter the age, fighters do exactly that. They fight. They put it all out on the line, and we give them our support in return. But no amount of trying, or believing, is going to change the coming tide. MMA is developing faster than I can type, and the limits are being tested in gyms all over the world.
The next few years will be an amazing test for those who still cling to the old ways, and to be honest I wish them luck. For the fans of the sport, these are the fights that show the world what it means to really be a martial artist….a warrior. And for those fighters of the old guard, the days when it was truly enough to dominate in one area of combat, we salute you. They truly are the founding fathers of MMA, and have really laid the foundation for a sport that is not just making people healthier and more involved in disciplined training, but changing the very mindset of generations to come.
For those of us who sweat and bleed for this sport, there could be no greater honor than to follow in the footsteps of these great athletes. In doing so we too will lay the bricks higher still and will give the younger fans something to aim higher than. Stay tuned, I know I will.