UFC: Changing of the Guard Photo by David Avila
Story by: Don Avila
Jon Jones smashing victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the UFC light heavyweight world title emphasizes the changing order for mixed martial arts.
MMA stars are quickly becoming extinct by this new generation.
It wasn’t a surprise that Jones (13-1) demolished Rua (19-5) to become the youngest ever champion. The New York-based fighter was the 2-1 favorite. The one-sided win simply shows that the stars that made Ultimate Fighting Championship crazy popular are being rudely brushed aside by the younger more talented generation.
Call it growing pains.
That’s where the purchase of Strikeforce makes sense. When UFC president Dana White announced that the rival MMA organization had been bought, some wondered why?
One reason could be to make new stars.
With former MMA legends like Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell retired, and Wanderlei Silva, Antonio Nogueira, Randy Couture, and Tito Ortiz on their last roundups, the Las Vegas-based UFC needs new stars to attract worldwide followers.
In the past several years UFC has gone abroad with MMA shows taking place every month and sometimes twice a month. Though the numbers are strong they’re not as strong as before and will sink lower once the novelty wears off.
UFC needs star power.
When Brock Lesnar was defeated by the lesser known Cain Velasquez, that really hurt. When BJ Penn lost to Frankie Edgar that also made a point of letting UFC realize that its stars were being overtaken by a younger generation.
Edgar was the main event of another fight card but the numbers dwindled dramatically. He’s no BJ Penn. The same might happen when Velasquez finally defends his world title. But we’ll see.
One thing is certain the purchase of Strikeforce enables UFC to gather another growing pool of potential stars and add some former UFC veterans like Dan Henderson and Nick Diaz. Both have legions of fans and are popular for their style of fighting. Nothing beats a beat down for attracting more fans.
Now that Jones has captured the light heavyweight title will he be able to garner a following like Rua? That remains to be seen.
Two box office stars remain for UFC and that’s Georges St. Pierre and Anderson “Spyder” Silva. If you add Henderson and Diaz to that pot well you double the star power. It’s all a numbers game for UFC.
We’ll see if Jones, Velasquez and Edgar can add to star power for UFC.