The aged karate man, dusting off his tattered gi for another ride into combat.
The even more-aged synthetic testosterone man, dismayed that all of his vials and test tubes have been emptied, but preparing his creaky body for battle nonetheless.
I am, of course, talking about former champs Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort, who will clash at UFC 224 on Saturday. Both men have been on borrowed time for so long, it’s nigh impossible to remember when they were the baddest dudes around. But those legends still exist, in the minds of fans capable of forgetting their more recent failures and knockouts, and so the UFC will trot them out once more.
Remember this version of “The Dragon?” Yeah, he hasn’t been around for long time.
At this point, it doesn’t even matter who wins. Belfort should have retired long ago, and Machida is one concussion away from forgetting every kata he ever memorized. And there is no chemical, pharmaceutical, diuretic or form of Brazilian voodoo that can change that.
On Saturday, when these two faded stars attempt to shine once more before a crowd that has loved them dearly for most of their lives, assume that the true prize for the victor is to emerge unscathed. Given their respective skill sets, that’s unlikely, but still. For Belfort and Machida to exit the cage on their own two feet, with all of their senses and wits about them, and announcement of retirement on their lips… that’s a win right there.
Anyway, here’s Dominick Cruz, Daniel Cormier and Jimmy Smith breaking down the fight.