(Photo by Esther Lin for MMAFighting)
By Bear Siragusa
Allow me to paint you a picture:
He shuffles forward on stiff legs, his arms occasionally jabbing out in slow, tired fashion. There is a man standing across the cage who advances and strikes him. A blow to the head. He staggers, but still shuffles forward, like something undead. Twice more he is struck in the head. With the third blow he goes stiff, like a corpse already in the grip of rigor mortis. He topples backwards like a stricken tree, to lay rigid and unmoving.
Sound familiar? Well, it should. It was the main event of UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi between Roy Nelson and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira. (Watch the carnage here.) It was a fight that, bottom line, shouldn’t have happened. Nogueira has suffered the most knockdowns (8) in UFC heavyweight history, and his previous knockout losses to Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez proved that Big Nog’s formerly armor-plated chin was becoming vulnerable. So why put him in the Octagon with one of the most devastating right hands in the UFC?
This kind of thing has become common in MMA.
MMA promotions have made it a habit to put beaten and tired legends of the sport in fights that they can’t hope to win. Look no further than Nelson vs. Nogueira, Overeem vs. Mir, Cro Cop vs. Mir/Schaub/Nelson. The UFC assumes that fans want to see these fights, but really, only a certain kind of fan wants to see these fights — the same fans who would gladly watch George Foreman and Muhammad Ali go at it again. One more time. For old times’ sake.
Which brings us to the scheduled UFC 173 bout in May between Dan Henderson and Daniel Cormier.