For many years in mixed martial arts, in particular the UFC, we have seen the same household names dominate.
Though all are elite athletes in their own right and deserve to be ranked where they are, it seems the UFC is becoming rather predictable, repetitive and somewhat boring.
Whilst it could be argued this is down to experience and the ageing of the fighters, UFC Fight Night 118 headliner Darren Till who faces veteran Donald Cerrone, insists this isn’t the case.
“Fighting isn’t about age or experience. It’s about intelligence. I know I’m the most intelligent fighter out there. I don’t think he’s the fighter I am. I really don’t,” Till said in a UFC press release.
Since making his debut, the “Cowboy” has made quite the name for himself, establishing himself as both a top contender and fan favourite.
However, now being 34 years of age and having fought well over 20 times, Cerrone’s prominence in both lightweight and welterweight division, should potentially subdue. But it hasn’t.
That said, the champion of the division, Tyron Woodley, is 35 years old so what can we expect? Only one top 10 ranked welterweight is not in their 30’s. That is Colby Covington at 29 years of age.
This remains a problem. Whilst it’s great to see all the old names still going strong, it’s hard to see a future for MMA. It’s hard to identify where change is going to come from.
We have fighters such as Mark Hunt who at 43 years of age is still one of the best heavyweights around and frankly, it’s becoming embarrassing.
Darren Till has a massive opportunity to put a dent in a great, yet prolonged career when he faces “Cowboy” this weekend in Gdansk, Poland with a chance to force his way into the rankings. Not only is Till the fresher, younger fighter facing a UFC great, it’s position as the main event could set the scene for a revolution for younger fighters taking over.
Whilst Till will clearly be going for the win for his personal accolades as opposed to any bigger picture, any higher meaning, it would be a step in the right direction for MMA as a whole.
It’s hard to see where the numerous needed prospects are going to emerge from but all we know is that the current older generation of fighters can’t last forever. Nor do we want them to. The UFC needs new poster-boys, fresher fighters, more colour added throughout their divisions.
Lightweight champion Conor McGregor has perfectly demonstrated how a brave and brash fighter can breathe a lease of new life into the sport by dominating, beating the greats, and forging a legacy. Re-writing the script.
Whether others follow suit remains to be seen but the Liverpudlian Till, holding an unblemished record of 15-0-1 has the chance to raise more than a few eyebrows should he be crowned victor on Saturday.