There was a successful Broadway play called Damn Yankees. In part homage, in part frustration with the domination the New York Yankees once had in baseball. Written in the era when the Yanks were almost always the best, from 1941-62 they won 12 World Series and were runners-up 4 other times.
The Boston Celtics in the NBA , Montreal Canadiens of the NHL, the Green Packers of the NFL were all legitimate dynasties. Year in and out either at, or near the top for a significant period of time.
They created the either you love ’em or hate ’em mentality just as prevalent today as then. So good you just wish someone else can knock them off. It’s an interesting dichotomy, like Tom Brady and the Patriots, no argument they’ve been as special as almost any, yet rooting against them is a natural outside of New England as a sign of respect for what they’ve done.
Maybe we need that dominance to gauge others. But parity as the rest of the NFL has become is also intriguing and we’re seeing it like never before in MMA’s biggest organization.
The UFC for years was automatic. Georges St. Pierre was the welterweight champ with a sparkling 9 defenses. Anderson Silva topped that with 10 successful defenses of his middleweight crown. They were exceptional, yet had detractors because of it. Too good for their own good. Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Framk Shamrock, Matt Hughes before them all had runs of superiority.
Then Jon Jones came along and took charge of the light heavyweight ranks with 8 title defenses. No one could do him in but himself. Ronda Rousey made it look even easier with 6 totally dominating defenses.
But now? Never has the lead changed hands in such rapid fashion. The UFC has become a wild stretch run of back and forth to the finish.
Who is the best? Demetrious Johnson can make the claim with 8 title defenses of his flyweight belt, the only man to hold that crown in the UFC. But he doesn’t strike as a polarizing figure, he methodically, efficiently does it all with class, no swagger.
No one would confuse him with Floyd Mayweather, Jr who at 49-0 had one of the most dominating individual runs in any sport and was a lighting rod of love or hate.
Others that looked poised for such runs of control had brief stays. Rafael dos Anjos looked the part, but lost his lightweight title to Eddie Alvarez in his second attempt to hold on.
Chris Weidman beat Silva for the middleweight crown, then defended it against him as well as two others before he was suddenly dethroned by Luke Rockhold who after a few months dropped it off to Michael Bisping.
While Jones continues to battle out of the octagon, Daniel Cormier has only been able to have one title defense. Conor McGregor, though still featherweight champ lost some of that dynasty luster with a catchweight setback to Nate Diaz.
And since Rousey was dethroned by Holly Holm last year, the whole division is a revolving door of one and done. Holm lost to Meisha Tate who lost to Amanda Nunes, all in a matter of months.
No division looks locked in. No one so good they generate the mixed emotions of respect to the point of dislike. That’s great for fans. An A side and a B side to the spinning turntable of what can happen next, has no negatives.
A true “on any given night” scenario that excites any who enjoy the unexpected. Expect that not to change soon.
With the exception of “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, it’s anyone’s game.
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