The following is simply my opinion. I welcome any comment below.
Recently, in my opinion, the world of MMA has hit an impasse. They have hit an area of stagnation with their stars. For a long time, we were very lucky in the MMA world. We had some huge names at the top of our list for a long time: Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Rich Franklin, Matt Hughes, Ken Shamrock, BJ Penn. Now the landscape of MMA is changing. Chuck Liddell has the job where he is like VP of Party Planning and photo ops at big events. Couture has a great gig in the direct-to-video, low-budget action film market. He will be comfortably living the life of luxury until Expendables Part 25. Ortiz hasn’t won since ’06, and with the domestic issues a year ago, is about as marketable as Michael Jordan with a Hitler mustache. Rich Franklin is trying to follow Couture’s path with Kelly Kapowski (Saved By the Bell reference). While still a name, it doesn’t have the luster it once did. Matt Hughes was a great name, but nobody would see him on the street and go, “Oh, hey, there’s Matt Hughes.” Ken Shamrock tested positive for steroids in ’09, so he has a scarlet letter on his chest. And BJ Penn has his book and was last seen taking down a Fox News guy. Time is marching on.
Who are we left with now?
Rampage “My really cool role in A-Team that I beat out some big name stars was gay” Jackson?
Humble Georges St. Pierre? A great fighter, but he’s not going to be starring in movies where he has dialogue.
Anderson Silva? While he is the greatest fighter in the world, at times, he has the likability of Tiger Woods, post-car accident.
Shogun Rua? Lyoto Machida? Don’t ask me to pick them out of a line-up.
Rashad Evans? Makes Anderson Silva likable.
Jose Aldo? Great athlete. But what do I know about him?
Matt Hamill? He was in a main event and the MMA community treated it like it was the worst moment event in MMA history.
Chael “All Talk, No Walk” Sonnen? Not after testing positive for PED’s.
Ryan Bader? My wife likes him, as does my preschool teacher.
Forrest Griffin? Maybe. But what ball have they given him?
Michael Bisping? Everybody loves (to see) a villain (get their a** beat).
Court McGee? Great story, but what have they done with him recently?
Diego Sanchez? Maybe. (I’m not going to tell him he’s not.)
Clay Guida? Of course, but what have they done to build him?
Amir Sadollah? Definitely has great crossover appeal. Already hosts an online show about Ultimate Fighter.
Jonathan Brookins? Definitely a future superstar if they let him be.
Roy Nelson? See “Michael Bisping.”
“Mayhem” Miller? Good recognition with the youths of today because of his history on “Bully Beatdown.”
“Bones” Jones? The guy radiates money. But does UFC know he does?
UFC has been holding onto their old stars for far too long. It’s time to give some of the younger stars a chance. It looks like they’re starting to with Brian Stann and Jon “Bones” Jones. And maybe the answer isn’t in the usual UFC box. Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum and Tyron Woodley are all huge names they have yet to utilize from the Strikeforce purchase. And of course, there’s the women of Strikeforce: Gina Carano, Sarah Kaufman, Cyborg Santos, Miesha Tate, Marloes Coenen, an untapped market on the cusp of explosion.
Not that any of those would bring millions to the UFC’s pocketbooks, but think for a moment on who is going to be the next star. Who will hold onto the reins now?