This past weekend’s UFC on FOX 5 offering from Seattle featured two fights on the main card that appear to pass the torch from a previous generation of fighters to the new up and comers. Former welterweight king pin BJ Penn was bludgeoned by the bigger, stronger and younger Rory MacDonald, and former Lightheavyweight Champion ‘Shogun’ Rua could not stop the onslaught of the bigger, stronger and younger Alexander Gustaffson. See a pattern there?
One thing that shows how young and raw the 23 year old MacDonald was his post fight interviews…. not his in ring performance, though it wasn’t perfect. Truth is that Penn is well past his prime and MacDonald did what he had to do. He fell into the trap that has haunted teammate Georges St Pierre, is that he fought safe once he was ahead, and did not exert himself in anyway to try and finish the fight.
They can talk about the phenom of Rory MacDonald, but he won’t fight for the belt for a while and this gives him a chance to continue growing. He called out Carlos Condit in the post fight, as he looks to avenge his only loss. Sorry, has to be said – that challenge was about as sad, unmarketable and feeble a challenge as you are ever going to see. Remember when St Pierre dropped to his knees and begged Dana White for another title shot? Watching MacDonald’s challenge, St Pierre reportedly hit his knees begging for Joe Rogan to take the mike back!
Likewise, Alexander Gustaffson was too big and too strong for the veteran Rua. He has likely fought his way to a title shot with Jon Jones, however Jones is booked 5 months from now against Chael Sonnen, This means that the title shot will be no earlier than the fall of 2013. Jones is probably going to win, but after his match and after the marathon of taping the reality series before that, Jones is within his rights to want 4-5 months off after that.
Gustaffson, at 25 years old, has already expressed that he wants to fight sooner, and it goes against all logic of development to take their top European asset, one who is healthy and continues to develop, and put him on the shelf for almost a year.
Gustaffson is highly skilled, and he has the physical size to match up with Jones. Jones will come in favored, with his biggest asset being his far superior athleticism. Who he would fight in the meantime remains to be seen, however a rematch with Phil Davis to correct his only loss could be the challenge Gustaffson needs.
Two veteran former champions took vicious losses to up and comers this past weekend. Despite definitive wins, neither MacDonald or Gustaffson have clear paths to the titles in the disorganized mayhem that is the UFC. What comes next for them remains to be seen.