Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dear MMA Legends...

Hey Guys,

My name is Spencer Kyte and long before I was a burgeoning MMA writer, I was an MMA fan and you guys had a lot to do with it.

Royce Gracie may have got me started, but it was each of your efforts inside the cages and rings that solidified my love for the sport. I only came around to writing about it when I realized I could use my keyboard to try and cash in on the wave of popularity the sport is currently riding. I'm sure you understand.

Anyway, I'm writing you today to talk about something important. No, I'm not trying to sell you insurance; I want to talk about retirement.

I know that word is somewhat taboo and not a topic any of you like discussing, but the fact of the matter is that the time has come to seriously consider "The R Word" as an option.

The three of you are icons in the sport; legends who have helped bring Mixed Martial Arts into the foreground and established yourselves as three of the greatest fighters the sport will ever see.

But as Bob Dylan once said, "The times, they are a-changing." At least, I think that's what he said, though I can't be sure because he mumbles more than you do, Chuck.

In the last few years that the sport has gain significant footing in the mainstream and grown into the global industry that it is, the evolution hasn't been limited to production value and media coverage.

Fighters are bigger, faster, stronger and more well-rounded, not to mention younger.

Do you know that none of you has a winning record over your last five UFC contests?

You're a combined 5-10 during that time and while you might want to argue about the level of competition you've been facing, anyway you slice it, you're still losing twice as many fights as you're winning.

I'm not trying to pass judgment; it's awful easy to sit behind a keyboard and wax philosophical about what a fighter should do, how they should approach a fight or diagnose what's wrong with their careers.

This isn't from E. Spencer Kyte the MMA journalist as much as it's from Spencer, a diehard MMA fan who doesn't want to see some of his heroes end up as the broken old warriors who just couldn't bring themselves to walk away.

I can only imagine how tough that decision would be and I don't envy you one bit. But if we're laying all the cards out on the table, I think the time has come.

Each of you used to dominate with a singular specialty: Mirko with his deadly head kicks, Randy with his unmatched wrestling and Chuck with those kegs of dynamite attached to the end of your arms.

Unfortunately, Father Time has caught up with each of you and sapped some of the power from those weapons, leaving you to get by on guile and experience. While it's worked from time-to-time, it's a losing battle if you ask me.

Nothing that happens from here on out in your careers will affect your legacies; they are etched in stone and established for all to see.

Those who have been following the sport throughout your careers will always speak highly of your talents and remember the myriad wins and championships each of you earned.

I know Brett Favre makes it seem horrible, what with his annual summer return to football, but surely retirement isn't all that bad?

Each of you have alternatives available to you, from film and politics, to broadcast, training and running your burgeoning empires, Randy...

There is nothing worse than the fallen star who hangs on too long; unable to accept that their best days are behind them and a return to the top of the mountain is not around the next corner.

While fans remember their glory days and numerous triumphs, they also lament those last few times they saw their heroes, shells of their once-great selves, like Johnny Unitas struggling in San Diego when he should have retired a Colt.

I don't want that for any of you and honestly, we're getting kind of close.

Don't let it happen, please.

Don't fall into the same trap Michael Jordan fell into, believing his otherworldly talents would keep him at the top when the next generation had already emerged to fight for his throne.

Don't become Washington Wizards.

Remain the iconic figures you are now; fighters who set the bar incredibly high and accomplished great things throughout your careers, legends to be talked about with reverence and appreciation.

And one last thing...

Thank you.


  1. Amen my friend, Amen.

    I've been following Cro-Cop for years now, and watching him step into the Octagon this last year has been tough to swallow, even when he wins. It's not the same, his knockouts in Pride were the things of legend, his K.O.s in the octagon don't carry close to the amount of weight.

    It would be nice to see someone just step out with their record intact, leaving no critics. Instead, we see these walking Gods step into the ring over and over, only to tarnish their track record. Leave us wanting more, not begging them to quit while they can.

  2. My sentiments exactly.

    Leave'm wanting more and quit while you're ahead are solid axioms to follow in my books. I just think about guys like Ken Shamrock that are still hanging on now and are shells of their once great self.

    The guy used to be "The Most Dangerous Man in the World" and now he's probably not even the most dangerous man in his neighborhood...

    And it's not like there aren't other options for these guys; Bas Rutten is bigger now than when he was fighting and he walked away before the injuries he did have crippled him.

    Thanks for the comment...


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