Posts Tagged ‘Muay Thai’

The Great G.O.A.T. Debate

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

Any time a superstar in a sport gives a signature performance, it’s common for fans to start up a “Greatest of All Time” or “G.O.A.T.” discussion. MMA is no different from any other sport; after Anderson Silva’s decimation of Yushin Okami last Saturday, people are wondering if it’s safe to call him the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.

It especially helps The Spider’s cause that (a) Fedor Emelianenko has destroyed his legacy over the last year to the point where he’s not even in the running and (b) Despite his continued dominance, Georges St-Pierre has lulled us into forgetting how good he is because of his conservative, uninspired efforts of late.

To me, the interesting part of the G.O.A.T. debate in MMA isn’t whether or not it’s Anderson Silva. To me, there’s no question right now. He holds the record for consecutive UFC wins and title defenses and he has never lost in the Octagon.

The more fascinating hot topic I’ve stumbled upon lately is whether or not MMA is old enough to have a G.O.A.T. Some people believe that, because MMA is so young, it can’t have a greatest of all time yet. People of this mindset believe that we haven’t even scratched the surface of how good mixed martial artists can be, and that the next superstars, physical freaks in the Jon Jones/Rory MacDonald mode, will be far superior to guys like Silva when their careers end.

Personally, I think it’s ludicrous to say that a G.O.A.T. can’t exist. It’s implied that the greatest of all time is always the greatest of all time so far. Even if MMA was one year old, it would still have the right of having a “greatest.” Royce Gracie held that honor in the 1990s, and deservedly so. He was an innovator whose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu changed the sport forever.

Anderson Silva deserves his G.O.A.T status just as much. He, too is a trailblazer because of his amazing grace, evasiveness, accuracy, showmanship and finishing ability. He’s a Muay Thai version of Muhammad Ali.

The best way I can close the debate on whether or not a young sport can have a G.O.A.T: saying that Anderson Silva doesn’t deserve the title yet would be like saying in 80 years ago that Babe Ruth didn’t deserve it in his sport because “baseball was still too young.”

Shawn Tompkins: Death of a Canadian MMA legend

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

Hearts are heavy in Canadian MMA this week. Shawn Tompkins, the legendary Canadian kickboxer-turned MMA trainer, died suddenly of a heart attack on Sunday at age 37.

His loss is a major blow the sport we love. But nothing can bring him back now. All we can do is celebrate the man Shawn Tompkins was and what he did for mixed martial arts.

Shawn was a teacher and mentor to numerous high-profile fighters, known for his Muay Thai expertise. He taught Canadians Mark Hominick and Sam Stout; he was married to Stout’s sister, Emilie Stout. Shawn also taught Brazilian striking legends Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort.

Shawn really made a name for himself over the last several years, starting in 2007 when he took over from Bas Rutten as head coach of the Los Angeles Anacondas in the Independent Fight League. He migrated the Anacondas, plus his Team Tompkins from London, Ontario, over to Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas.

Shawn became Xtreme Couture’s head instructor. In 2009, he left there to become a team trainer at the TapouT Research and Development Training Center. Despite taking on a new job, he remained closely tied to all the fighters he trained, consistently cornering them. He was particularly thrilled when MMA finally gained Ontario sanctioning and cornered several of his fighters’ first bouts in the province.

His sudden death leaves a massive void among the fighters he mentored and most of all, with his wife. It also begs the question: did we celebrate his contribution to Canadian MMA enough while he was alive?

Canadian mixed martial arts is still in its infancy. Naturally, Georges St-Pierre put it on the map like no one else, and several other fighters have risen to prominence since. But there may have been no more respected Canadian MMA trainer than Shawn Tompkins.

Just look at the reactions among the MMA community:

“Shawn is one of my best friends, one of the best if not the best striking coaches on the planet, and I mean this,” said Bas Rutten. “He always puts his students and friends before him, would do anything for them.”

“Sad to hear the news about Shawn Tompkins,” said Chuck Liddell. “My condolences to his family. He was a great guy and coach.”

“RIP Shawn Tompkins – your impact on MMA and this world will be remembered by millions,” said Shane Carwin.

“Big loss for our sport,” said UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta. “Shawn Tompkins. We will miss him!”

Looking at that list of names, it’s clear Shawn was revered around the world. In hindsight, I wish Canada did a better job honouring such a meaningful contributor to MMA.

It’s not too late, however. We can still pay tribute to him by celebrating his life and accomplishments. Here’s hoping someone makes a documentary to tell his amazing story. It would be a major step toward doing him justice.

R.I.P., Shawn Tompkins, and thanks for what you’ve done for our awesome sport.

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