Whenever there is a lull in notable UFC/MMA events it allows us, the media, to talk about some things that would otherwise fly under the radar. In recent months we’ve heard from a few legends of UFC about the possibility of a new division for retired “legendary” fighters to continue to have an opportunity to fight. The ironic part is it’s being pushed by Vitor Belfort. The assumption is that TRT is no longer banned and fighters can get back into fighting shape with it.
It’s safe to say that if this idea generates enough buzz then the UFC will give it a go. There isn’t much chance that it attracts less viewers than TUF, and they’ve been forcing that down our throats for 25 seasons now. Let’s breakdown what it may look like, and who would be the eventual champion in the Heavyweight division.
First, let’s set the criteria for the fighters. Given that the idea behind this is to keep the fighters that grew the sport fighting, the requirements that we will use for the Legends league are as follows. Fighters must have at least 5 fights in the UFC, above a 500 record in their UFC careers, and have been inactive for at least 2 years not due to suspension (Frank Mir is screwed over again).
Next, the rules and weight divisions. There will be three weight classes. Heavyweights 220 pounds and above, Middleweights 180-220 pounds, and Lightweights anyone under 180 pounds. This should prevent any weight cutting resulting in the death of 45+ year old fighters, but still allow us to see fighters that would likely matchup against one another in their primes. Also, given the new look of Urijah Faber it’s safe to say the lighter weight divisions are no longer needed. The fight format would be five 2 minute rounds, or possibly five 1 minute rounds to force the action. For this exercise let’s use five 2 minute rounds. Tournament style would also be best so fighters can gear up for each event.
The breakdown of the top 3 fights for each division should look something like this: (Disclaimer, this doesn’t entirely consider a fighter’s career resume, but also the likelihood that they still have the ability to fight at a high level, sorry Tank Abbott).
Randy Couture (1) vs. Dan Severn (6) – Couture is likely the most in-shape, retired heavyweight and can rely on that along with his Greco wrestling to smother most opponents. Couture probably won’t gain any respect or fan support from this tournament but he has a great chance to win. While Severn has a similar style, he’s way to old to keep pace and will be overmatched.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (2) vs. Bas Rutten (4) – Although Couture is the number 1 seed, I would put my money on Big Nog to win the tournament (spoiler alert). Since Frank Mir is ineligible because of suspension, Big Nog is the biggest threat on the ground. The ground is where most of the heavyweight fights will take place so Big Nog should be right at home. Bas Rutten on the other hand would prefer to keep the fight standing, or in a bar. His open hand slaps are probably less effective than they once were and since it is unlikely that the fight will take place at a local pub, Bas is in for it. Unfortunately, the most entertaining fighter in the tournament won’t make it out of the first round.
Shane Carwin (3) vs. Cro Cop (4) – This is the only true slugfest in the legends heavyweight division. Carwin could use his wrestling, but for entertainment purposes let’s hope he moves forward and throws those giant hands at Cro Cop. Cro Cop on the other hand is the most recently retired heavyweight fighter so that should translate into him being the most fight ready. Still, Carwin has more weapons and as long as he’s healthy I would expect him to win.
The way I see this tournament going is Couture, Big Nog, and Carwin all making it out of the first round. The likelihood of them all being healthy enough to fight again within the next 2 years is slim, so that’s why we have the 6 fighter format. We can assume that Carwin will retire after his first round win because his back/neck blew out for the 90th time. If for some reason Carwin isn’t injured and able to fight again, Brock will be invited back to try to replicate one of the greatest fights in UFC Heavyweight history. After that there is no question that Brock will be popped for steroids again, which will leave us with the aforementioned Big Nog versus Couture title fight.
Big Nog versus Couture for the Legends heavyweight strap is an intriguing fight at any age. I see Couture taking Big Nog down after hugging him for the first 3 rounds and grinding it out while the crowd fills the arena with boos. In the 4th Couture will do the same, but he will end up jumping right into Big Nog’s very stiff guard and get submitted via kimura.
Big Nog is your Legends Heavyweight Champion of the world ladies and gentleman.
Stay tuned for the next article breaking down the middleweight and lightweight divisions.