TOPIC: Are you in favor of a Legends Division in UFC, as Vitor Belfort has suggested? Whether you’re for it or not, what is the best set-up for it in terms of parameters and how it’s featured?
BRIAN KERN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
No, when you’re to old to fight with the “cream of the crop,” it’s probably a sign your body isn’t willing to take to it anymore. Plus, do we really want to see these guys take any more damage? Whether it be physically or mentally, when you’re done, you’re done. Or there is RIZIN, where legends go to… thrive? Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipović (35-11-2-1) came back with vengeance recently and with rumors of Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1-1) fighting on a RIZIN event soon, who knows what can happen. (Wanderlei vs. Belfort 2 anyone?) One thing’s for sure: If they do a Legends Division, they should go back to the old school rules. No time limit, no weight class. If the Unified Rules of MMA make things tricky, then follow the current match formula of three 5-minute rounds and five 5-minute rounds for the title fight. I say the title fight because it should be one division only, therefore one belt.
MATTHEW ECOCHARD, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I don’t see a Legends Division being any form of exciting. The terms of how the fights as spelled out by Vitor Belfort would make sense, though – shorter rounds, no elbows, and thicker gloves would all lean towards safer fights and ones that are better suited for older fighters. The three weight classes make sense as long as long as the gaps weren’t too high. So maybe no real weight cutting is allowed and they must perform close to their natural walk-around weight. If it were to come true, they should use it as their feature bouts on Fight Pass. That way people would be paying for the service to see their favorite fighters from the past competing. Fight Pass numbers would definitely rise if this was the only way to see some of the bigger names that just can’t cut it anymore on the main roster.
ROBERT VALEJOS, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
No! I am not in favor of any sort of mechanism that encourages fighters to hang on to the point of parody. Our entertainment is not worth the shame and possible injuries that could result from a Legends Division. When Bellator MMA has their “legends” fights, there is a sense of dread proceeded by embarrassment and, of course, fixing allegations.
With all that said, I do think there can be some place for older fighters within the UFC. Unfortunately, in MMA there are no “Vince Carter” type of fighters who can contribute in their twilight, but not risk embarrassment. So maybe it would be best to use those aging fighters in single-discipline martial arts competitions. As we saw with SUG, someone like Dan Henderson could compete in a grappling contest with little harm done to him. It would be great so see these type of events under the UFC umbrella. Tell me you would not want to spend 30 minutes on UFC Fight Pass watching Anderson Silva compete in a Tae Kwon Do competition, or Lyoto Machida in a Karate point fight.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
It’s a nice idea, but it falls apart when you think about it. Who would actually be in the division? How many fighters would be in each Legends Division? Do you go strictly by age, 40 and above? What’s the oldest you could be and still compete? There’s a myriad of questions to be answered, but one fact negates any reason to try to answer them: There just simply would not be enough fighters to make a set-up viable.
Even if you could gather up a group of six 40-plus years old fighters who would be willing to train, drug test, etc., you would run out of matchups pretty quickly. Even with eight or ten fighters, you’d have that issue. And there are not that many legends out there who would be willing to do this. You’d struggle to find more than a few guys to make up a division, let alone enough to want to create a division. Sure, there’s legends out there who would fit this bill, but in they’re in different divisions. They’re scattered all over the weight classes. This sounds nice, but it’s just reasonable at all.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS ROUNDTABLE: ROUNDTABLE (pt. 2 of 2): Which fights would you prioritize for Anderson Silva if he only has two or three more fights left?