Fighters Past their Prime?

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Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby PainDog » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:03 pm

Fighters Past their Prime?

Almost anyone with more than curious interest in MMA has heard about “Sea Level” Cain Velasquez, pre-knee surgery Shogun, or prime Fedor.

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Anytime a fighter that has established a lengthy winning streak and has seemed dominant loses excuses are made. Was the fight a one off fluke like Serra ending winning streak and championship reign, or was a fighter succumbing to age like what I believe has happened with Lyoto Machida in his last few losses, or fighters finally facing better competition like Ronda Rousey.

Sometimes different factors might coincide with a fighter’s diminishing performances.

If we take Chuck Liddell’s last 6 fights as an example. Chuck lost 5 of his last 6 fights and he lost 4 of them by being viciously knocked out. The holes in Chuck’s defense which was exploited by his opponents were always there, it wasn’t something that had been sound and diminished as he got older.
Also, if we consider that Chuck was only 37 when he was knocked out by Rampage in their second fight. This was the first-time Chuck had been knocked out cleanly, he had been TKOd only twice before by Rampage in their first fight and against Randy Couture at UFC 43.

Throughout Chuck’s winning streak and time as UFC LHW champion he wasn’t taking much damage. Out of his 20 wins prior to the Rampage rematch at UFC 71 he finished his opponent in the first round in 9 of those fights, in the remaining 11 fights that he was primarily facing grapplers and not taking much damage.

Chuck’s game did not rely on reflexes as much as it did his counter wrestling and striking power. As you age typically reflexes are the first physical attribute that diminishes, at 37 aging reflexes likely didn’t play much roll in the Chuck’s losing streak.

He also hadn’t really taken much damage. While Chuck would ignore defense even when being struck while standing up after being taken down he hadn’t absorbed the same kind of damage as other striker of the same era such as Wanderlei Silva.

Often Chuck’s losing streak is attributed to him losing his chin, while his durability could very well have diminished, a larger factor was that he was he facing opponents that began to exploit the holes which were always present in his game.

Image


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Exploiting the same openings in Chuck's defense

When Johny Hendricks fought Stephen Thompson I expected him to lose. I believed at the time Thompson had the skillset that would give Hendricks trouble. When Hendricks was knocked out by Thompson I attributed the victory to Thompson’s skillset more so than any perceived decline in Johny’s abilities.

In his subsequent performances Johny’s performances continued to decline, and the attributes that lead him to the WW championship were no longer present. He was no longer a power punching power house with terrific wrestling.

Johny’s decline coincided with USADA testing. It is hard to conclude that USADA has been the main factor in Johny’s decline, likely much more than anything his opponents have done.

Fighters like Shogun and Cain Velasquez have spent the majority of their careers battling injuries. It is a fact that Shogun was injured prior to his fight with Forrest Griffin at UFC 76, after the fight he had knee surgeries and would be off for nearly two years. Since then he has almost consistently alternated wins and losses. What Shogun or Velasquez could have been had they not had to deal with injuries is open to much speculation. The fact their careers have been so injury plagued makes even defining their primes difficult.

With other fighters, there seems to be more of a mental shift than a physical one. Fedor Emelianenko is often regarded as the greatest HW mixed martial arts fighter of all time. When his performances began to diminish in 2010 he was only 34 years old and he appeared to be in more or less the same physical condition as he was during his impressive reign on top of the HW division.

Fedor’s greatest strength wasn’t his physical attributes, or his technique, rather it was his patience and intelligence. Fedor usually seemed a bit wild with his strikes (few exceptions being against Nog in if I remember correctly their second fight and against Cro Cop) but he didn’t just rush his opponents, he was patient and exploited openings in his opponent’s technique.


Image


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Even when being suplexed on his head Fedor remained calm

When he began to lose is when he seemed to fight rushed. Not to take anything away from his opponents such as Werdum and Henderson, but appeared as if he began to fight without utilizing his intelligence and patience his two best attributes.

Recently Max Holloway defeated Jose Aldo for the second time, and there were questions regarding where Aldo is in his career. Many felt Aldo must be past his prime.

However, Aldo is only 31 and reflexes are as sharp as ever, he was clearly quicker than Max. Aldo got tired, and the cardio issues he had in the Holloway fights is something he has dealt with throughout his career.

What seems more likely to me is that Holloway exploited the holes which were always present in Aldo’s game. Exploiting weaknesses is of course easier said than done. What Max has is a style and physical attributes that match up well with Jose Aldo.

While I am often critical of John Kavanagh I believe, he was right on when prior to the first Holloway vs. Aldo fight at UFC 212, he said “Aldo tends to do better against short, stocky wrestlers,” Kavanagh said. “He seems to have the perfect game for that. I don’t know if there’s somebody of that style who could possibly beat him. He’s almost perfect for that style. But here he is again, in against somebody he very rarely faces: a taller, striking-based opponent.”
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby philphan » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:28 pm

Joe lo
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby Mr Meow » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:30 pm

PainDog wrote:Fighters Past their Prime?

Almost anyone with more than curious interest in MMA has heard about “Sea Level” Cain Velasquez, pre-knee surgery Shogun, or prime Fedor.

Image

Anytime a fighter that has established a lengthy winning streak and has seemed dominant loses excuses are made. Was the fight a one off fluke like Serra ending winning streak and championship reign, or was a fighter succumbing to age like what I believe has happened with Lyoto Machida in his last few losses, or fighters finally facing better competition like Ronda Rousey.

Sometimes different factors might coincide with a fighter’s diminishing performances.

If we take Chuck Liddell’s last 6 fights as an example. Chuck lost 5 of his last 6 fights and he lost 4 of them by being viciously knocked out. The holes in Chuck’s defense which was exploited by his opponents were always there, it wasn’t something that had been sound and diminished as he got older.
Also, if we consider that Chuck was only 37 when he was knocked out by Rampage in their second fight. This was the first-time Chuck had been knocked out cleanly, he had been TKOd only twice before by Rampage in their first fight and against Randy Couture at UFC 43.

Throughout Chuck’s winning streak and time as UFC LHW champion he wasn’t taking much damage. Out of his 20 wins prior to the Rampage rematch at UFC 71 he finished his opponent in the first round in 9 of those fights, in the remaining 11 fights that he was primarily facing grapplers and not taking much damage.

Chuck’s game did not rely on reflexes as much as it did his counter wrestling and striking power. As you age typically reflexes are the first physical attribute that diminishes, at 37 aging reflexes likely didn’t play much roll in the Chuck’s losing streak.

He also hadn’t really taken much damage. While Chuck would ignore defense even when being struck while standing up after being taken down he hadn’t absorbed the same kind of damage as other striker of the same era such as Wanderlei Silva.

Often Chuck’s losing streak is attributed to him losing his chin, while his durability could very well have diminished, a larger factor was that he was he facing opponents that began to exploit the holes which were always present in his game.

Image


Image
Exploiting the same openings in Chuck's defense

When Johny Hendricks fought Stephen Thompson I expected him to lose. I believed at the time Thompson had the skillset that would give Hendricks trouble. When Hendricks was knocked out by Thompson I attributed the victory to Thompson’s skillset more so than any perceived decline in Johny’s abilities.

In his subsequent performances Johny’s performances continued to decline, and the attributes that lead him to the WW championship were no longer present. He was no longer a power punching power house with terrific wrestling.

Johny’s decline coincided with USADA testing. It is hard to conclude that USADA has been the main factor in Johny’s decline, likely much more than anything his opponents have done.

Fighters like Shogun and Cain Velasquez have spent the majority of their careers battling injuries. It is a fact that Shogun was injured prior to his fight with Forrest Griffin at UFC 76, after the fight he had knee surgeries and would be off for nearly two years. Since then he has almost consistently alternated wins and losses. What Shogun or Velasquez could have been had they not had to deal with injuries is open to much speculation. The fact their careers have been so injury plagued makes even defining their primes difficult.

With other fighters, there seems to be more of a mental shift than a physical one. Fedor Emelianenko is often regarded as the greatest HW mixed martial arts fighter of all time. When his performances began to diminish in 2010 he was only 34 years old and he appeared to be in more or less the same physical condition as he was during his impressive reign on top of the HW division.

Fedor’s greatest strength wasn’t his physical attributes, or his technique, rather it was his patience and intelligence. Fedor usually seemed a bit wild with his strikes (few exceptions being against Nog in if I remember correctly their second fight and against Cro Cop) but he didn’t just rush his opponents, he was patient and exploited openings in his opponent’s technique.


Image


Image
Even when being suplexed on his head Fedor remained calm

When he began to lose is when he seemed to fight rushed. Not to take anything away from his opponents such as Werdum and Henderson, but appeared as if he began to fight without utilizing his intelligence and patience his two best attributes.

Recently Max Holloway defeated Jose Aldo for the second time, and there were questions regarding where Aldo is in his career. Many felt Aldo must be past his prime.

However, Aldo is only 31 and reflexes are as sharp as ever, he was clearly quicker than Max. Aldo got tired, and the cardio issues he had in the Holloway fights is something he has dealt with throughout his career.

What seems more likely to me is that Holloway exploited the holes which were always present in Aldo’s game. Exploiting weaknesses is of course easier said than done. What Max has is a style and physical attributes that match up well with Jose Aldo.

While I am often critical of John Kavanagh I believe, he was right on when prior to the first Holloway vs. Aldo fight at UFC 212, he said “Aldo tends to do better against short, stocky wrestlers,” Kavanagh said. “He seems to have the perfect game for that. I don’t know if there’s somebody of that style who could possibly beat him. He’s almost perfect for that style. But here he is again, in against somebody he very rarely faces: a taller, striking-based opponent.”


So does KenFlo not qualify as a taller, striking-based opponent? I do not remember Aldo needing to stuff all that many takedowns in that fight
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby PainDog » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:40 pm

Its been ages since I've seen the Florian fight but I am pretty sure he tried taking Aldo down quite often and even held him against the cage for lengthy periods of the fight.

Florian also wasn't really that elite of a striker to be honest, his BJJ and elbows on the ground were probably his best areas.
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby slevin » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:49 pm

I feel like when Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero defeated Machida that Machida was not past his prime. Machida starched CB Dolloway, and then fought Luke 6 months later, and got dominated. People couldn't make sense of the fact that Luke took down and controlled Machida, because Jon Jones couldn't control Machida. But not looking at the fact that Luke's BJJ is far superior to Lyoto's or.Jon's. And the reason why Luke was able to do that is because he is good at controlling and positionimg when it comes to grappling.

Same with Romero, machida always sits back and Yoel pressures his opponent and works in short bursts. His pace is slow and it works well against Lyoto because Lyoto rarely leads.
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby PainDog » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:53 pm

slevin wrote:I feel like when Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero defeated Machida that Machida was not past his prime. Machida starched CB Dolloway, and then fought Luke 6 months later, and got dominated. People couldn't make sense of the fact that Luke took down and controlled Machida, because Jon Jones couldn't control Machida. But not looking at the fact that Luke's BJJ is far superior to Lyoto's or.Jon's. And the reason why Luke was able to do that is because he is good at controlling and positionimg when it comes to grappling.

Same with Romero, machida always sits back and Yoel pressures his opponent and works in short bursts. His pace is slow and it works well against Lyoto because Lyoto rarely leads.


I agree with you, in the sense that Luke is just that good on the ground.

I mean I was sure Brunson would beat him due to aging reflexes and I think he will really struggle if he continues fighting
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby Mr Meow » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:23 pm

PainDog wrote:Its been ages since I've seen the Florian fight but I am pretty sure he tried taking Aldo down quite often and even held him against the cage for lengthy periods of the fight.

Florian also wasn't really that elite of a striker to be honest, his BJJ and elbows on the ground were probably his best areas.


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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby EvilGorilla69+1 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:14 pm

Mr Meow wrote:
PainDog wrote:Its been ages since I've seen the Florian fight but I am pretty sure he tried taking Aldo down quite often and even held him against the cage for lengthy periods of the fight.

Florian also wasn't really that elite of a striker to be honest, his BJJ and elbows on the ground were probably his best areas.


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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby EvilGorilla69+1 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:36 pm

i like what you said and the way you approached it and I agree in some bits.(shogun + Cain).


It's not about biological years, though. It's about fighting years. And about how many years someone can stay at the top of the mountain. Aldo, at the age of 29, was already 9 years undefeated and defending his belt for about 7 years. A handfull of fighters have managed to capture the belt stay on top of their game + undefeated, for that long.

Anderson Silva,jon Jones,Fedor Emelinanenko

with GSP being an honourary mention. That's it.


Chuck Liddell had indeed some holes in his game, I agree.. But the fact that he went out cold like that, shows that his mind and overall conception of reality was blurry from all the alcohol, drug and punch abuse he had endured during his career.

Ubereem gave him a good beating, as did Rampage and Couture. Chuck stopped wrestling. Stopped fighting. he became predictable. Right hand happy. And people put him away, as he was to eager to knock people out and he was going balls in and getting countered.



Wanderlei Silva had a 5-6 year reign in PRIDE, in where he was almost untouchable.


most great champions have 3 years of pure dominance.

Frank Shamrock. Got the belt in 1997(december) and defended it 4 times. 3 callendar years.

Tito got the belt in 2000 and kept it till 2002.


Chuck -- > 3 years with no belt.. a couple of losses...

bounces back with another 3 years of dominance..



when Holloway is 25-1 or something and has been defending his belt year in, year out, we can talk about legacies..


and lets see how 'old' holloway will fight when he is 32-33... if he is still fighting..

it's all relative.. but

1)Fedor

2)Aldo

3)Jones

4)St Pierre and

5)Andreson silva


are in a league of their own.


in a champion GOAT question. Not in best 5 fighters of all times, but most succesfull,consistent and accomplished champions of all times.


Big Nog a close 6th
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby EvilGorilla69+1 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:57 pm

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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby PainDog » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:25 pm

EvilGorilla69+1 wrote:i like what you said and the way you approached it and I agree in some bits.(shogun + Cain).


It's not about biological years, though. It's about fighting years. And about how many years someone can stay at the top of the mountain. Aldo, at the age of 29, was already 9 years undefeated and defending his belt for about 7 years. A handfull of fighters have managed to capture the belt stay on top of their game + undefeated, for that long.

Anderson Silva,jon Jones,Fedor Emelinanenko

with GSP being an honourary mention. That's it.


Chuck Liddell had indeed some holes in his game, I agree.. But the fact that he went out cold like that, shows that his mind and overall conception of reality was blurry from all the alcohol, drug and punch abuse he had endured during his career.

Ubereem gave him a good beating, as did Rampage and Couture. Chuck stopped wrestling. Stopped fighting. he became predictable. Right hand happy. And people put him away, as he was to eager to knock people out and he was going balls in and getting countered.



Wanderlei Silva had a 5-6 year reign in PRIDE, in where he was almost untouchable.


most great champions have 3 years of pure dominance.

Frank Shamrock. Got the belt in 1997(december) and defended it 4 times. 3 callendar years.

Tito got the belt in 2000 and kept it till 2002.


Chuck -- > 3 years with no belt.. a couple of losses...

bounces back with another 3 years of dominance..



when Holloway is 25-1 or something and has been defending his belt year in, year out, we can talk about legacies..


and lets see how 'old' holloway will fight when he is 32-33... if he is still fighting..

it's all relative.. but

1)Fedor

2)Aldo

3)Jones

4)St Pierre and

5)Andreson silva


are in a league of their own.


in a champion GOAT question. Not in best 5 fighters of all times, but most succesfull,consistent and accomplished champions of all times.


Big Nog a close 6th


I agree that few champions have defended their belts consistently over a lengthy period of time.

However when they did lose, it was not automatically due to them being older or damaged, but often it was them facing an opponent that exploited weaknesses which were already present in their game.

Chris Weidman had the right approach to beat Anderson Silva regardless of where Anderson was in his career. It's all just speculation, but the holes he exploited in Anderson's game were holes that were always there.

The samething can he said of other dominant champions like Joanna and Ronda or Chuck Liddell.

When great fighters lose there is a tendency to try and attribute the losses ti something that must have happened to them, that affected their performances, when often it wasnt as much about what they did wrong as much as it was what their opponents did right.
Last edited by PainDog on Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby DeceptaCon » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:51 pm

Post USADA = fighters past their prime.
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby PainDog » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:25 pm

I also agree with this list of greatest championship runs though I would move Jones to the top.

1)Fedor

2)Aldo

3)Jones

4)St Pierre and

5)Andreson silva

I wrote probably most about Liddell in the original post, and I do want to add some things.

Liddell did go out on his shield fighting the way he wanted to fight, in typical Chuck style.

While Chuck fought in his typical style at the end of his career his fight against Vitor Belfort showed he could fight quite differently if he chose.

Against Franklin he started the fight in a similar approach as he did against Belfort...but when he thought Rich was hurt he carelessly rushed in and got caught.

There is no shame in the way Chuck went out. He wasn't fighting to be the best ever as much as he was trying to knock people the fuck out.
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby hawdrigoh » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:17 am

Personally I've thought Aldo has looked progressively worse physically since around 2014 (before the Lamas fight). His explosivosity and rhythm seems to have been in decline since then. Just my opinion though.
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Re: Fighters Past their Prime?

Postby slevin » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:18 am

PainDog wrote:
slevin wrote:I feel like when Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero defeated Machida that Machida was not past his prime. Machida starched CB Dolloway, and then fought Luke 6 months later, and got dominated. People couldn't make sense of the fact that Luke took down and controlled Machida, because Jon Jones couldn't control Machida. But not looking at the fact that Luke's BJJ is far superior to Lyoto's or.Jon's. And the reason why Luke was able to do that is because he is good at controlling and positionimg when it comes to grappling.

Same with Romero, machida always sits back and Yoel pressures his opponent and works in short bursts. His pace is slow and it works well against Lyoto because Lyoto rarely leads.


I agree with you, in the sense that Luke is just that good on the ground.

I mean I was sure Brunson would beat him due to aging reflexes and I think he will really struggle if he continues fighting

I think an argument could be made, that Brusnon was able to capitalize on some of the flawed striking fundamentals of Lyoto. And that his age did not have to do with Brunson getting the W. Lyoto fight with his head in the air, and when throws that left straight it leads him vulnerable against other southpaws.

Also how come you think Lyoto has been past his prime since 2015, despite beating CB, and not showing any form of decline? He did not show any decline in his other bouts against Mousasi, Weidman or Munoz either.
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