Friday, February 26, 2010

Why do all of my heroes die?

UFC 110 this past Saturday was a great event. It was the coming out party for fighters like George Sotiropolous and especially Cain Velasquez, and all the fights were exciting and competitive. Still, I couldn't help but feel a sense of nostalgia on this card. I must admit, I loved PRIDE Fighting Championship more than any other organization. Ever. The UFC included. This card featured three of the fighters that made PRIDE so enjoyable for me: Wanderlei Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.

Nogueira and Cro Cop were once considered two of the top three heavyweights in the world at the time of PRIDE's demise. Nogueira was known for his dangerous submissions, and Cro Cop was the most feared striker in the world. I remember bragging to my "casual fan" friends about how bad ass they were, and how they would dominate the UFC heavyweight division. Like a lot of other PRIDE fans, I feel like I've been let down. Big Nog is 3-2 in the UFC. He's looked sluggish, slower, and (except for the Couture fight) pretty lackluster. He had never been finished before his UFC career, but both of his UFC losses have been by TKO in the 2nd round or earlier. Cro Cop hasn't looked good either. 3-3 in his UFC career, Cro Cop is now tentative and stagnate. Gone is the stalker who would bully his opponent with kicks and punches. He looked good against Anthony Perosh this past weekend, but who is Anthony Perosh you ask? Exactly.

My memories of Wanderlei Silva in PRIDE have also been getting tarnished by his recent stretch in the UFC. Since coming back to the UFC, Silva is just 2-3. While two of the loses were close and exciting decisions against Liddell and Franklin, he suffered a brutal knockout against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, a man he had brutally knocked out twice in PRIDE. While I'm beginning to think Nogueira and Cro Cop's best days are behind them, Silva was the one bright spot from my PRIDE heroes on UFC 110. He beat Michael Bisping by decision, and looked the best he has in a long time. It looks like there's new hope for good ol' Wandy at middleweight.

Part of what made PRIDE so great for me and many other fans were the fantastic wars and battles that were fought in PRIDE. It seems like the wear-and-tear from those memorable duels are catching up to them. Brock Lesnar and Nogueira are just one year apart in age, yet Nogueira has been fighting since he was much younger, and may explain why he's looked 10 years older in the cage. It seems like the memory of Gabriel Gonzaga's high kick haunts Cro Cop. Believe me, these guys are my heroes, I'm not trying to bash them. I just hope they really do have it, and can prove me wrong.

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