The Masters Division in MMA

Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock 3
Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock III—Oh My!

Last night at Bellator 145, the mixed martial arts (MMA) audience watched 31-year-old Daniel Straus contend for 28-year-old Patricio “Pitbull” Freire’s Bellator Featherweight Championship in an incredible bout that epitomizes what MMA fans love about the sport.  Two high-calibre, talented, youthful professional athletes at the prime of their career exchanging world-class techniques until they went the distance, and one of them was judged to be the superior athlete. 

When Straus had his hand raised and was crowned the new Bellator Featherweight Champion, it should’ve been the crowning achievement of not just Straus, but of Bellator: a new, young champion who could rise to be considered one of the best featherweights in the world.  However, the biggest takeaway coming out of Bellator 145 had to do with something else.

Prior to the Straus-Freire clash, an announcement was made.  Legendary competitors: Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock, who had their first fight in 1993 at UFC 1, and a critically panned 36-minute rematch at UFC 5, will finish off their long rivalry in a third fight at a Bellator event in February 2016—a little over twenty-two years from their first clash. 

To say that the reaction was a bit polarizing would be a massive understatement.

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