It's funny, when Vitor Belfort first pitched the idea of a UFC "Legends Division" to give the promotion's rapidly-deteriorating-but-still-marketable a place to continue beating the dust off each other, it was rightfully laughed off by most as ludicrous. MMA isn't the PGA, after all, and the idea of a "Senior's Tour" seems both exploitative and borderline heartless when taking trivial things, like health concerns, into account.
But as more and more of MMA's most recognizable figures are approaching (or in many cases, surpassing) the collective twilight of their careers, Belfort's suggestion suddenly doesn't seem like such a terrible idea. Or, at least, a better one than continuing to book aging legends against up-and-coming killers.
Hell, Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie II is a thing that's honestly being discussed in the year 2017, so perhaps there is something to this "Legends League" worth exploring.
To that end, here are five "Legend vs. Legend" fights that you totally #wouldwatch.
Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie II
Like we said, this fight is something that is seriously being discussed by both parties. In 2017. So what if Hughes absolutely murked Gracie when they first fought back at UFC 60? I'm sure that the UFC 1 winner has only, um, improved in the past 11 years, and I defy one of you to say that you wouldn't pay to watch "Country Breakfast" himself come out of retirement to lay down a good ol' fashioned American ass-kicking.
This fight would be like a Toby Keith song come to life, and you would totally watch it.
Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin II
It was the fight that sent the most recognizable face in MMA into retirement, and also one that he was winning right up until he got caught. Franklin, on the other hand, still technically has one fight left on his UFC contract despite also being retired, and discussed his dream of fulfilling it as little as two years ago.
You would so watch this fight again. Don't even try to deny it.
Matt Hughes vs. Rich Franklin
Because, let's be honest with ourselves here, Hughes and Franklin are both winning those fights I just put together by a country mile.
If given the choice between watching any of the UFC's currently planned headliners and this fight, you'd pick this fight and you know it.
Dan Severn vs. Ken Shamrock III
Their first fight was a classic clash of styles and a pivotal, high-profile battle between two future hall of famers in the developmental stages of the sport. Their second fight was the exact opposite of all those things: a 30-minute staring contest that made Thompson vs. Woodley II look like Henderson vs. Shogun I and II combined. Clearly, there's a score to be settled here.
Now, I know what you're thinking, "Doesn't the fact that Severn has been retired since 2012 hinder this matchup from ever happening?" In fact, Severn just came out of retirement last year to face Shamrock in a trilogy match, only for the fight to be cancelled at the last minute thanks to a Shamrock injury.
Severn was none too pleased by this development, so what better way to settle said score between a 53-year-old who had his fight license revoked last year after testing positive for steroids, and a 58-year-old five years removed from the sport, than IN THE OCTAGON?
You would watch this fight six days a week and twice on Sunday. You'd pay upwards of $50 to watch it through a crack in the door of a stranger's apartment.
Bas Rutten vs. Literally Anybody
While #BasRutten has clearly moved onto bigger and better things these days (primarily, his critically-acclaimed web series, The Bas Rutten Experiment, in partnership with Champions), it's a scientific fact that he could still roll out of bed and still beat 99% of the cocky whippersnappers on the UFC's current roster on his worst day. A dangity here, a dangity dang there, and just like that, Bas Rutten is your new three division champion.
But against his fellow legends? It would be like watching Salieri trying to transcribe Mozart's music (with Rutten being Mozart in this scenario, obviously). He would destroy them. All of them. Probably at the same time. Which is why it'd make the most sense to book Rutten against both Forrest Griffin and B.J. Penn in the UFC's first ever handicap match. My God, the liver shots alone would be worth your $60.
You would watch this fight so hard. You would watch it more times than you've already watched episode 1 of The Bas Rutten Experiment. Was this whole article an excuse to plug The Bas Rutten Experiment? I guess you'll have to find out...by watching The Bas Rutten Experiment. I rest my case.