“Greatness in mixed martial arts is an oft-discussed and ill-defined phenomenon.
There are moments of greatness, when a single move is so spectacular and dynamic that it transcends its own context: Think the “Showtime Kick,” the “Randleplex” or simply YouTube an Anderson Silva highlight video. Then there are great fights: gutsy, never-back-down brawls, come-from-behind wins, shocking upsets and the like. If you’re spending your Monday reading MMA opinion articles, you probably don’t need too many examples; watch this sport long enough and you’ll develop a shortlist of great fights without conscious effort in the same way you involuntarily breathe in your sleep.
Yet what is probably the most hotly debated and feverishly coveted claim to greatness is consideration as a great fighter. This usually requires a long-term aggregate of both of the former criterion, a rare feat that is slowly developed, hastily misapplied and readily dismissed. The shallow history of the sport magnifies our short memory, but even though we are often too quick to anoint the latest fighter on a hot streak as the next “Great,” we are just as quick to recant when he or she slips up or stumbles. Great fighters require time to fully appreciate, as well as a detached appraisal that those of us who thirst for the instant gratification of knockouts and submissions often lack the patience to distill…”