UFC Fighters Past Their Prime: In or Out, Or....
For all of his failures in the Teddy Bear department and aside from the rare occasion where it seems something needs to be wrung out a little further (Khabib, anyone?), Dana White is consistent in one area. Whether he is correct or not is another thing. But he is consistent.
A sign used to hang in a football locker-room that read, "Commitment is easy to judge. You are in or out." That is how Dana sees his contractors' and their shelf-life. MMA is strange in that we can seem to know only when a fighter is either in or out. It is strange that there is little room for as one Irishman maligned, "taking part". Is there no place for a former champ who was lauded in their many fights before the belt? Is there no place for a fighter who may be at the same elevation on the backside of a mountain as when he/she was on the front to still compete? If fighting is in our DNA, is there no place for fighting as an endeavor in itself without a piece of gold on the line?
It is a shame that Frankie Edgar has to wonder where he stands after being knocked out by Cory Sandhagen in early February. He is after all that same blue-collar underdog who scratched and clawed to the top. It might be a shame that licking wounds happens in MMA. Isn't being wounded enough of a cost? Before MMA was a sport, it was a representation of disciplines and the "A" in MMA was the thing tested. Impossible to separate competition and ego for sure, but can we not find room for those at various stages on their journey? We cheer them as they climb, then we seem to shove them down the other side of the hill if we think they have peaked. What if there were no good ol' days in MMA? And we did not need to wonder about how in or how out someone was or whether they still have it or not – whatever the heck that means? What if we let the fighters be who they are now and earn a living giving their best and cheered them on with respect? I say commitment is easy to judge. Walk through the cage door and you are in. Choose - not be pushed to take off the gloves - you are out, but not less-than.