Ladies and Gentleman, the new breed is finally here. You can mark a dominant champ true reign, by what comes after. Matt Hughes, the long time champ, set the bar pretty damn high. A high level wrestler , who was able to blend a very competent top game and submission styled attack with his elite level wrestling. What came from that? GSP. A guy who came up, knowing he would have to topple the mighty Hughes, and would need competent wrestling to ever have a chance. GSP was claimed to be the future for a long time coming, and boy did he ever meet those expectations. GSP picked up where Hughes left off, adding a versatile striking attack to elite wrestling, and still remains to be the pinnacle of the evolution of the sport due to his ability to truly be the first person to ever blend striking and grappling seamlessly. GSP is able to out wrestle better wrestlers, due to his ability to key on the perfect time of when to strike, and when to shoot.
Now, what does this mean for the generation after GSP? Years of GSP dominance has led to the arrival of a whole platoon of people ready , willing , and able to give GSP a real run for his money.
The New Breed
Stout , major weight cutting wrestlers, with big power in their hands. This type is difficult for any style on the planet . Mike Pierce even gave Jon Fitch, perhaps the modern day Matt Hughes, a run for his money. And this was still while Mike Pierce was just coming up.
Rick Story, a tough as nails kid who used gameplanning to squeak by a very dangerous and evolved Thiago Alves. Story, got his ass kicked in the fight, but he was able to use the right tactics to get the win.
As you can see, they've already have done some positioning among the elite.
Fitch, Koscheck, Alves, and Shields, have had an absolute strangehold on the top 5 of the division for years and years while GSP has kept the number 1 spot on lockdown as well. It seemed impossible for anyone to ever crack this top 5.
Now, we are looking at potentially a completely new reworking of the top 5, and perhaps, even the number 1 spot.
These five guys are being positioned to make their way towards the thrown as we speak.
Although Diaz had his title shot taken from him, he is definitely primed to get the next shot if he beats the legendary BJ Penn. Diaz has had quite a run, and most impressively, beat Paul Daley, at his own game.
So let's see how the UFC options break down.
1) Diaz vs Penn
If Diaz wins, he is in for the shot. If Penn wins, I find it doubtful, although that could be the offer that couldn't be refused part.
2) Jake Ellenberger vs Diego Sanchez
Ellenberger coming off the biggest win of his career, and the biggest win of the new breeds existence. This was brutal, dominant, no questions left unanswered beating of a guy who has remained in the top 5 for the last couple of years, and was just coming off a title shot. Jake has a winnable fight here against Diego, who is yet another name to add to his resume. The future is uncertain, but should Penn win, or Diaz go crazy again, injury or anything, look for Ellenberger to be grabbed up .
3) Johnny Hendricks vs Jon Fitch
The UFC is dying to see Fitch lose to someone. A guy who can be competitive wrestling , and has big power, presents big problems for Jon Fitch. Should Johnny Hendricks unseed the clear cut longtime #2 WW in the division, he should definitely be expecting a call at any time.
4) Anthony Johnson vs Charlier Brenneman
Story squeaked by Alves, and pretty much stole his thunder, only to have Charlie B steal it right back from it. Here Rumble is going to try to capitalize on all of this thunder stealing. Rumble got his ass handed to him by Koscheck, but hopefully that loss woke him up and made him realize the holes in his game. He was seen using his wrestling against Hardy, a rarity, and seems to be taking the ground game a lot more seriously. This guy is as big as they come at WW, and with his speed , power, and wrestling ability, he is a handful for anyone on the planet.
5) Rory Macdonald
The future of Welter weight. The golden boy. Groomed by the current champ as well! This kid is set up for glory, but his time will come later. Rory has no interest in fighting GSP, and he is a tremendous WW who is still young, and may outgrow the division. Regardless, he will be the next GSP, or the one to push it even further than that, in any division.
Rory's time will come, but for now, this new crop is licking their chops at a shot at GSP. These guys are all bringing big power and stout wrestling, and for all of GSP greatness, one of the things he lacks, is great power. As well as a great submission game, and lack of recent finishing ability, it would appear that the fights GSP has coming towards him in 2012, are going to be very interesting.
My personal opinion leads me to believe that GSP is probably still too far ahead of the game for anyone to catch him. Mostly due to his transition ability. Still, after all this time, no one has been able to replicate his ability to smoothly blend striking and grappling. However, I do think, that he is going to have fights that are more competitive than normally with these new guys.
The old breed's top 5, is done IMO. Alves, Shields have already been beaten. Fitch and Koscheck are next. I don't know if it will be Johnny Hendricks who does it, but one of these guys will get to Fitch, and beat him. Mike Pierce got pretty damn close, one of the remaining members will get the job done.
Koscheck fits into a seperate category here. He's essentially the first of the new breed to come. Stout wrestling, added with big knockout power. Koscheck should be able to fit in with these guys with no problems, but Kos is in for some really competitive fights. I doubt he wins all of them, I doubt he loses all of them, but things will certainly get really interesting here.
So what do you guys think? Will this new breed dethrone GSP, or just the remaining top 5?