“I’m starting to get the feeling, more and more, to come back…It’s like a knife that I have to keep sharp just in case I ever decide to jump back in the mix…”
Most comebacks in professional sports are met with terrific fervor. In boxing, the return of Muhammad Ali and later Mike Tyson attracted global attention. When Fedor Emelianenko — The Last Emperor, as he is known in the world of mixed martial arts — declared his comeback for New Years Eve 2015 after a three-year retirement, there was a frenzy over who he would face and if the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) might sign him. For the past two years, there have been murmurs that another sensation, former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, might finally return to order to make a second run inside the Octagon and regain his belt.
Despite the passion and excitement generated on most of these occasions, the comebacks have been either short-lived or disappointing. Ali was badly beaten by former training partner Larry Holmes and then lost again to Trevor Berbick before finally hanging up the gloves a few months before his 40th birthday. Tyson was knocked out in his final two fights, looking like a shell of himself and admitting after his loss to Kevin McBride that he didn’t have the guts to stay in boxing anymore. Fedor surprised everyone in his choice to fight an MMA nobody in former professional kickboxer Singh Jaideep and beat him up in an expectedly lopsided win. In his second fight since his un-retirement, he was almost knocked out in the first round by faded Brazilian Fabio Maldonado and won a contested majority decision for a Russian promotion for which Fedor himself picked the judges. Fight fans (and ladies) everywhere are still awaiting the comeback of St-Pierre, with his camp and rivals in search of a big paycheck insinuating he might return for Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, or Michael Bisping.
Some returns are less heralded and go almost unnoticed by the rest of the world. After being knocked out for a second time by Chuck Liddell in 2006, Randy Couture retired only to return a year later and challenge Tim Sylvia for the heavyweight title. Couture was 46 years old, six inches shorter and more than 40 pounds lighter than Sylvia. But, he dominated the giant man across five rounds to become the oldest UFC champion in history.
With the creation of Dope on the Ropes, I’ve made my fourth or fifth semi-serious run at blogging. The others were as unheralded as it gets. The most popular post on my last blog had 300 reads if I was lucky. But, like a hopeless fighter throwing back wild, blind hooks from the ropes, I’m a relentless one. Join me for the ride. Here goes!
- Brian Gabriel