By: Frank Hyden, MMATorch contributor
Randy Couture recently announced that his UFC 129 fight against Lyoto Machida would be his final fight. That’s cool if that’s what he wants. However, there’s no need for Randy to make this his final fight. It’s not as though he looks impotent in the cage, and there doesn’t seem to be a real danger when he fights.
I think as long as Randy realizes that he’s not the fighter he used to be, he can fight as long as he wants. He just has to scale back his competition. I actually think that’s the main reason why Randy has decided to retire, he knows that he can’t compete at the level he used to be able to. I’m sure movie roles and other aspects of life factored into his decision, but elite athletes don’t like having lost a step. These guys are used to competing at a high level and when they can’t reach that level anymore, they lose interest. It’s only natural that time would eventually catch up to Randy, though he can be damn proud of how long he was able to turn back the clock. It’s time for the next chapter in his life. Randy has earned all the respect he’s been given, and then some.
I’ve made no secret of how I think the fight between Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields for the UFC Welterweight title at UFC 129 will go down. I just don’t think that Shields has the tools needed to defeat GSP. It’s not that I don’t think Shields is a good fighter, it’s just that I consider GSP to be one of the greatest fighters of all-time. Even in 20 years, GSP will still be in the top 3 greatest fighters of all-time. That’s saying something considering how quickly the sport of MMA is evolving. Athletes keep getting better over time. Even an average NFL team today could beat most every great NFL team from the 70’s. It’s why you can’t compare eras, it’s not right. Athletes today are bigger, faster, and stronger than they’ve ever been. Breakthroughs in science and technology allow athletes to do things never thought possible before.
MMA has come a long way. Compare fighters from even 10 years ago to fighters from today, and you’ll see a huge difference. Even taking that into account, though, I still believe that GSP will stand the test of time. There are certain athletes that can be taken from their era and put into a different one, and still enjoy the success they had during their era. Maybe not as much success, but certainly enough to still be considered a great. I consider Bill Russell to be the greatest basketball player of all-time. Some would argue that Michael Jordan was better, but that’s an argument for another place and time. I believe you could take Russell and put him into today’s NBA, or any other era in NBA history, and he would still be one of the greatest players in the league. What made him great in his era would make him great in any era. Bill Russell stands the test of time.
I believe the same is true of GSP. What makes GSP a great fighter today would make him a great fighter in any era. GSP stands the test of time. I would also put Anderson Silva in the same category as GSP.
When I say that I don’t give Jake Shields much of a chance against GSP, I don’t mean that as an insult to Shields. I think he’ll join a long list of guys who didn’t, and don’t, have much of a chance against GSP. I could run through the list of guys who fought GSP and got dominated. I could mention Josh Koscheck (twice), Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra; they’ve all lost to GSP in dominating fashion. That doesn’t make them bad fighters, instead it simply strengthens the case for GSP being an all-time great.
The guys I mentioned are really good fighters. They didn’t lie down and let GSP beat them. They fought him as hard as they could, but it wasn’t enough. I think the same will be true for Jake Shields, he’s a really good fighter, but I don’t think he can beat GSP.
In any other era, the UFC Welterweight Title would be one of the most hotly-contested titles in history. The division is stacked with really good fighters, and the belt could easily change hands every time it was fought for. However, this isn’t any era, this is GSP’s era. He stands head and shoulders above everyone else. Every time he fights, GSP just adds to his legend. Nothing against Jake Shields, but he’s just going to be another Wikipedia entry under guys GSP has dominated. There’s no shame in that, and he’ll join a long list of fighters in that entry. But as long as GSP is around, it seems as though everyone else will be competing for second place.
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