There have been umpteen articles and rankings on the history of the sport, you know, since no one heard of MMA before the UFC.
Let’s just forget that Pancrase held their show before the Gracie’s did.
Before the UFC, the Gracies were a combined 7,819,952-0 in no holds barred combat, in the years before the UFC was created.
Let’s also not forget, while the UFC is the big dog sitting on the porch, there were times when they were being outdrawn by several promotions, the only reason they became the big dog is the Fertitta Brothers had several Million to burn before having to worry about profit. I wonder if Pride had not been run like the California State Government if the UFC would be as big as it was. Goodness knows MMA has always been able to pull money marks out the woodwork.
That being said, I think we can look back and break down how MMA has evolved.
So let’s take a look at what I’m going to call Generational MMA. As the sport has evolved, you can classify the majority of fighters into 4 eras. I’ve also got a Side A- who would be the first of the generation to breakthrough, and side B, who would be considered the last of that generation.
Alexander the Great to Royce Gracie.
A 1st generation fighter is one that comes to the fight with one of 2 backgrounds- either he’s a backyard fighter with a chin of iron who is just going to out tough and out pain you- or is super skilled at one aspect of MMA, and his skill is better than your skill.
Side A would be those such as Tank Abbott- and the hundreds of guys of his ilk.
Side B would be the Gracie Family,
Gracie is just a master at Ju-Ju, and he could beat almost anyone with that.
Dan Severn was a master wrestler- and look at that striking prowess
Look at those two men’s striking in the early days- that is the definition of a G1 fighter. My Karate will KO you, unless you take me down and then I’m done for. But if I catch you…
Hughes Might be the greatest of the G1 fighters. Why do I consider him a G1? Explain to me where he worked his hands. If he went out and fought today, he’s looking for a takedown or getting sprawled. He’s a submission wrestler, who just outworked everyone. Would he work today? Not really. He spent the bulk of his post-GSP career trying to get a knockout and got blitzed. I’m saying that as a Matt Hughes Fan.
Frank Shamrock to TUF 1
Generation 2 is the fighter that started in one discipline, and Moved on to be an expert at another, or just blending the two styles.
You watch Belfort, he’s not just a striker, he’s almost complete. You look at Randy, and he grows into more than just a wrestler. I think you can even put Tito into this category. He’s a wrestler, who works on good hands. This generation is more the training. In G1 you train primarily at one thing, and then see if your skill can beat their skill. G2, we have improved somewhat, you spend MWF at the wrestling gym, then Tuesday and Saturday you went across town and boxed. You have guys that went from Skill to SkillSet.
G2 Dinosaur: Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Fedor
2006 to 2012
This is where the line gets a bit harder to draw, these are the fighters where they have always fought under the Unified rules, almost all of their fights are going to be on Sherdog’s fight finder, The main difference is the fighters are trained in MMA, not just wrestling, or Karate or Ju-Ju.. When you ride by the school, it’s not Joe’s Wag-Fu School with a banner out front that says we teach UFC.
It’s Jackson’s MMA or Xtreme Coutire or something to that effect, you don’t do one discipline only, or worry about Gi Training, its fighting, all day every day. You have an explosion of money, of promotions, or quality of fighters, you have guys that could be in the NFL or NBA trying MMA, and some even going into fighting. You leave the wrestling as a draw and the fighter is a draw. The gimmicks went away largely, and things became standardized. Mostly. We also have Women’s MMA, and people getting title fights and headline fights due to drawing power.
Generation 3 fighters are like Jon Jones, or Rory McDonald.
G3 Dinosaur: Much like birds, they walk among us.
This is the current day, we have one top dog, so we have the NBA of MMA, the UFC- and we have the top Euro Leagues where their top guys could compete in Bellator and WSOF. There might be some guys that could beat the UFC title holder, but there isn’t a promotion out there where their top 5 could win a series against the UFC top 5.
We also have a time where there is money in the business. Not just for the UFC, but you can never fight in the UFC and make a living in Bellator, or even in some smaller promotions, maybe not a great living, but you have coaches that don’t have to deliver pizzas to make ends meet.
The sport is also in newspapers, every sports channel, every state, and everyone pretty much agrees on the rules. You don’t have to learn one set of rules in Vegas and another in Sweden.
Where do we go from here?
Well, I can’t see a Union forming, just not going to happen. I can see a true challenger to the UFC forming, maybe after Dana retires and WME-IMG puts a suit in the office. Will that put it to a G5? I don’t think so. I’m not sure what gravitational shift will happen that could form a G5. Maybe if someone dies and they swing the safety line in the other way. Maybe if the UFC has to mandate Head Gear and ban low licks that will make a G5 happen.