ROUNDTABLE (pt. 2 of 2): Which top fighter from a previous UFC era would you most like to see in their prime against a top star in today’s scene?

Jon Jones (photo credit Mark J. Rebilas © USA Today Sports)

Which top fighter from a previous UFC era would you most like to see in their prime against a top star in today’s scene, and who do you think would win?

ADAM TINDAL, MMATorch contributor

I would love to see a young and motivated B.J. Penn take on another young and ferocious up and comer like Khabib Nurmagomedov. Both guys are fearless and the styles complement each other. In his prime, B.J. was as dangerous as they come no matter where the fight took place. His takedown defense was unlike any other at the time and his boxing was becoming a spectacle to behold. Khabib has the strength and athleticism that would have made this fight anything but boring.

NICK GRINUPS, MMATorch columnist

I would love to see a prime Fedor Emelianenko take on Jon Jones at open weight and make it Pride rules. I think Jon Jones would be able to use his reach and distance to keep away from Fedor, but Fedor is used to fighting taller opponents and knows how to engage. Also, Fedor was very underrated off his back and maybe could get Jones in an armbar, Vitor Belfort style. I think that would be the greatest fight off call time, especially when Fedor was on his tear.

FRANK HYDEN, MMATorch columnist

It’s always hard to compare athletes from different eras because athletes from prior generations just wouldn’t be as good now as they were then. That sounds incredibly disrespectful, but hear me out. The only reason athletes today are better is because they have the athletes of yesteryear to look up to and emulate. You can’t take the Wilt Chamberlin from 50 years ago and expect him to be as dominant in today’s NBA. I know he’s a sacred cow, but if anyone thinks that you could take Michael Jordan from 1996 and put him in today’s NBA and expect him to be as dominant as he was 20 years ago, you’re out of your mind. He would still be tremendously successful, but he wouldn’t be the unquestioned best player in the league today. Guys today do things not thought possible 20 years ago. And they wouldn’t be nearly as good as they are now if they didn’t have guys from 20, 30, 40 years ago and beyond to learn from and emulate. Every successive generation stands on the shoulders of those who came before them. I love Jordan, and grew up watching him (though Bill Russell in my favorite player of all-time), but you have to be logical here. Guys like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry wouldn’t exist without guys like Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Chris Mullin, and Jerry West.

MICHAEL HISCOE, MMATorch contributor

I’d love to see top-form, peak B.J. Penn against Conor McGregor at lightweight. I think the cut to 145 was too much for Penn and he was always at his best at 155 anyway. It’s also a more natural weight for McGregor. The promos building up the fight would likely be legendary and both fight so aggressively that it would likely be a really fun fight to watch. As for who would win, it would be the classic grappler vs. striker match. If BJ. could get McGregor down, I can only see him swallowing him up and submitting McGregor rather easily. However, if McGregor can stay standing, he’s a more effective counter striker and would likely win by knockout. I’d have to take McGregor despite B.J. Penn’s legendary status. I wouldn’t support it, but heck, even today’s B.J. Penn would take that fight right now.

WADE KELLER, MMATorch editor

How about Chuck Liddell in his prime against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson today? There’s still part of me really wishing we could have seen Anderson Silva at his best against a young Jon Jones, so Silva at his best against today’s Jones would be near the top of my list. Just looking at today’s welterweights, I’d be intrigued to see Stephen Thompson vs. Matt Hughes at his best.

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS ROUNDTABLE ON THIS TOPIC: Which top fighter from a previous UFC era would you most like to see in their prime against a top star in today’s scene? (pt. 1 of 2)


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