mma / Columns

UFC Legends League: Great Idea or Cry for Help?

March 14, 2017 | Posted by Evan Zivin
Vitor Belfort

So what’s going to happen first? Vitor Belfort stops fighting or he gets to take advantage of the senior discount at Golden Corral?

If things play out the way Vitor wants, it’ll be the latter, since he’s the one who thinks it’d be a great idea for the UFC, the standard bearer for professional MMA in the entire world, where all the top fighters who have yet to make Dana White’s shit list compete to determine who is the best…before immediately getting cast aside because they can’t draw McGregor money, to create a new division for aging fighters to continue to ply their trade until they presumably turn to dust?

I don’t know if I should laugh at that news or cry. Or, at the very least, remind Vitor that Bellator exists.

Not that Bellator hasn’t received enormous criticism for putting on fights between men who have no business competing anymore. I mean, as bad as UFC has gotten over the last few years with their matchmaking, they never did a fight where the loser almost died and the winner did die after getting booked in another fight.

But, the thing about booking those kinds of fights is that people do watch them. We all joked about how awful Ken Shamrock vs. Kimbo Slice was going to be, and it was, and yet we still tuned in, making it the most watched fight in Bellator history.

We tune in every time Bellator does it. It’s why Shamrock’s fight with Royce Gracie did so well, for as much of a joke as that was. It’s why the highest rated fight ever…for 2017 is Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen, for as much of a joke as that was.

It’s why we’re still so excited to see Fedor fight even though he hasn’t been a top heavyweight for a decade. Seriously, if he does end up fighting Matt Mitrione, it’s either going to end in Meathead making hamburger out of Fedor’s face or another controversial decision that will lead to comment sections everywhere getting flooded with fight fixing accusations. Again.

We say we don’t want these fights but, every time they get booked, we still squeal with excitement as we get our DVRs set up.

Bellator knows this. UFC does too. Why else would they have booked BJ Penn when everyone knew how badly that would go?

The same could be said about Vitor Belfort on Saturday night, who got wrecked inside a round by Kelvin Gastelum, a fighter who has had issues, primarily with his weight, but is still an extremely talented prospect who will probably be fighting for a championship within the next 5 years.

That is, as long as he’s not using Khabib Nurmagomedov’s nutritionist. ZING!

Of course, the solution to both Belfort and Penn’s troubles could have been to match them up with appropriately skilled fighters instead of sacrificing them at the altar of up-and-coming contenders like Gastelum or Yair Rodriguez, but how bad would that end up looking? That means UFC would either be matching up former champions with unranked nobodies or it means UFC has to call up fighters as equally sad and pathetic as Vitor and BJ, fighters who have no business being in the UFC, just so we can have an evenly matched contest.

Or they can call CM Punk.

Oh and hey, what’s Jens Pulver up to these days? Somebody tell me he’s not fighting anymore. Please, somebody tell me.

I’m serious. Somebody tell me he stopped fighting. I’m worried about him.

But if Vitor wants to come back, and if UFC is desperate enough for attention that they’re willing to add “profiting off old, broken down fighters, further tarnishing the promotion’s own reputation (and the health of respected legends) to garner a couple more Payperview buys from casual fans who will stop paying attention to the freakshow the second the circus packs up and leaves town” into their business model, then that’s their risk to take.

Although, it’s hard to say who’s more pathetic: the promotions who think putting on these kinds of fights are a good idea, or the fans who confirm it’s a good idea by tuning in every time one of these kinds of fights gets booked.

Remember, we are the society who continue to make the DC Cinematic Universe, if you can even call it that, profitable despite the fact that every single one of their films has been a dumpster fire that got hit by a train and then pissed on by the people who CGI’d Grand Moff Tarkin back to life.

I have friends who, every time there’s a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, says they aren’t going to see it because the last one sucked and so will the new one. Then, they end up going to see the film, just so they can come back and say how much it sucked.

This is us. This is who we are. This is our normal behavior. We say one thing then do another. We do dumb things without considering the message it sends to everyone else.

There is seriously something wrong with us. I think we need help. Or we can just blame it all on Michael Bay.

We have to admit that, for as much as we’d publically say Vitor’s idea for a Legends League is an awful one that we would never support, we would and will totally watch those fights. We’d probably be more excited for those fights than the majority of fights UFC currently puts on, since, if there’s one thing UFC does well, it’s promoting its young talent and giving us a reason to care about them.

Hmmm…my sarcasm key appears to be stuck again…

Seriously, if it was up to the UFC, they’d still be promoting fights with guys like Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture and Matt Hughes. They really shouldn’t but they know those guys can still draw and that we’d still pay to watch them, just like we’re still paying to watch Ken Shamrock 20 years after he was last relevant.

We really are horrible when it comes to having this conversation, but, admittedly, it’s hard to act in a way that goes against our baser instincts, our curiosity, or our inability to turn away from a car crash unfolding right in front of our eyes, even when we knew all along it was going to happen.

Not that freely admitting to it leads to a better situation. I mean, it’s not like these fighters can compete forever, even though that’s the main reason Vitor threw the idea out there to begin with, because he doesn’t want to have to stop fighting, thinking he can still fight for a few more years with appropriate opponents, even though he’s been clobbered in his last three outings and there’s little reason for anyone to want to see him fight again other than a brief hope of seeing him violently knock someone out just like he used to.

Then again, maybe they should just allow TRT again…

I also don’t know how sad I should feel for Vitor when he proposes something like this. He said that his next fight, which he hopes will take place in Rio at UFC 212, will be his last but he clearly didn’t sound like he wants it to be his last. Does he want to keep fighting because he’s still enjoying it or because it’s all he knows how to do and he’s afraid of what life will be like once he finally steps away from active competition?

I would hope he’s not fighting for money anymore, that he and his wife Joana Prado haven’t completed blown their collective fortunes.

He shouldn’t have to worry about his legacy, as I imagine the UFC is waiting to induct him into their Hall of Fame.

I would think he’ll still be involved in the sport once he’s done, running a gym or training fighters.

Hell, his name is big enough in Brazil, he could open an MMA themed chain of restaurants if he wants, where the servers all wear those skimpy UFC ring girl outfits and walk around holding cards in the air with the drink specials on them. It could work. I know money when I see it.

Wait…could it be a case of Vitor not being physically capable of stopping himself from fighting? Is fighting an addiction to him? A habit that he just can’t kick like so many opponent’s heads?

It’s okay, Vitor. We can get you help. All it’ll take to cure you is to sit you down and make you watch Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson from UFC 209. You’ll never want to fight again after seeing that, believe me…

Sooner or later, he’s going to have to admit he can’t fight anymore. If he wants to keep trying to prove that wrong and hurt both his reputation and what remains of his long term health, that’s on him, but it has to stop eventually. Does he think it’ll be any better to be forced to stop than to do so voluntarily, when he still has health and money and a fairly bangable wife?

C’mon, Vitor. It’s okay to walk away. You’ll be fine. If you go the restaurant route, you can even give all the dishes bad pun names. Wouldn’t you love to serve someone a Ham on Rye-an Bader? Or some Daniel Corned Beef Hash? It can be washed down with a cold, refreshing Mark Godbeer. And for dessert? Junie Brownies.

Hmmm…I fear I’ve given this too much thought. NO ONE TAKE MY IDEA! YOU’RE STEALING MY RETIREMENT!

Evan Zivin has been writing for 411 MMA since May of 2013. Evan loves the sport, and likes to takes a lighthearted look at the world of MMA in his writing…usually.

article topics :

Vitor Belfort, Evan Zivin