When should a champ retire?
I have said it time and again. You are only as good as your last opponent.
One of the biggest beefs I have with forum dwellers and sports writers is the comments they make when a champion loses. The champion in question probably defeated the best the division had at the time of their reign. Sometimes there isn’t a broad selection, but they fight the best of the small crop. Rich Franklin is a perfect example. When Rich was Middleweight Champion he had beaten the top guys of the time to get there – not counting the Ken Shamrock fight. He defended against David Loiseau, who hardcore MMA fans were singing the praises of daily as the true number one middleweight next to Matt Lindland.
Rich out-worked the title from the best version of Evan Tanner there ever was. When he lost to Anderson Silva after a long layoff he was instantly discredited and his previous dominance was brought in to question. His only other loss at that time was to red-hot Lyoto Machida. That didn’t matter to the naysayers because losing the title made him a fraud.
Anderson Silva is 38 and has literally cleaned out the division, but he has a common problem much like Chuck Liddell did. A new crop of younger fighters has emerged. They were forged in an MMA rich world that has embraced the sport and proper training is readily available. They are unfairly compared to older fighters whose previous accomplishments have faded over time and are all but forgotten. They are compared to these younger guys in every way possible and it shows ignorance on the part of the critic who does it.
How can you compare the Tito Ortiz of days gone by to the Tito competing against younger, faster, and healthier top 10 talent? You can’t – well fairly. Chuck Liddell was past his prime and lost to younger stars like Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua, and so on. Rampage Jackson is nine years younger than Chuck is haters so don’t go there. Once a fighter passes 35 it becomes more difficult to stay in top form and injuries happen more often. The strength may remain, but the speed tapers off. Once an older fighter starts a losing streak I stop counting those losses as a true indication of how good they were. Try it if you are one of the ones who blasts these guys over their records like you did Chuck Liddell. Didn’t Chuck beat hardcore fan darling Wanderlei Silva?
If Anderson Silva loses to Chris Weidman he is still the greatest of all time and will remain that way until someone else beats as many quality fighters in a row while defending the championship. Chris Weidman will be the man who is currently number one, but Silva remains the number one Middleweight of all time.