As an oldschool 90s VHS tape watching veteran, I've been wondering for a long time what the UFC were going to do at the actual even to mark the 20th anniversary. Sherdog's fantastic coverage of the history of the sport in their radio specials and features like 'where are they now' really are wonderful, and have had me really hyped for the 20th anniversary card. I had heard they were bringing in lots of 'people' involved in the early UFCs and had hoped there would be at least some kind of gathering of former stars / champs / SEG people in the cage, like at the 10 year anniversary.
This week I'd been keeping an eye out for anyone in the fight week preparations, but all I had seen was Royce (who is often at events anyway) and Mark Coleman. Both guys seem to just be there as like mascots for the fighters in the main event. Anyway, all my hopes were finally killed off after watching Helwani's latest video with Dana:
Basically Dana said there is going to be nothing on the broadcast to interfere with (fuck with in his vocab) the fights. Furthermore, it sounds like the people he is bringing in are only the SEG era business people (Art Davie etc) and not actual fighters, and they are basically getting a Vegas holiday trip to watch the fights which will all be off-camera.
I have allot of respect and gratitude towards Dana and Zuffa for saving the sport and bringing us to where we are now, but I have a bit of a gripe regarding their almost complete indifference to the SEG era. Dana was ofc a boxing fan and skeptical of the validity and skill of the sport before his 'conversion', its a similar story for allot of the UFC brass. I don't think those guys really understand how important to the true oldschool fans the SEG era was and just what a wild special time that was. The crazy, larger than life characters, waiting months between events, the way the whole spectacle was presented, the controversy, the challenges in martial arts magazines, and that there was still a bit of the martial arts mysticism about the whole thing.
How cool would it have been to at least have seen the camera pan onto guys at ringside between the fights like Tank Abbott, Kimo, Mark Kerr, Don Frye, Dan Severn, Oleg Taktarov, Marco Ruas, Pat Miletitch, Carlos Newton, Jens Pulver etc alongside Royce and Coleman. How much would some plane tickets and some hotel rooms have cost in the grand scheme of things? I understand about the bitter events behind the scenes, but as an MMA fan, the fact that at the 20th anniversary show, the Shamrock's and Randy are not only shut out of the event, but in the formers case, actually written out of the history of the UFC is just incredibly sad. When you see Stephan Bonner being inducted into the UFC hall of fame it kinda makes me mad.
So UFC 167 sounds as if it will just be business as usual. Who knows we might get a flash at ringside of a couple of old faces, but I just feel real down about the whole thing and even more sad for the true pioneers who could be almost forgotten by the newer fans of the sport. Allot of the early guys have had really wild and unfortunate lives, got almost nothing from thier contribution and most grimly of all, might not even make it to the 30th or even 25th anniversaries.