11 February 2016

Youth Versus Experience and What Newton and Manning Could Both Learn from the History of MMA

Football is without a doubt the ultimate team sport and the world was just able to witness its greatest spectacle. The Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers in convincing fashion and yet all and we seem to be able to talk about is Peyton Manning versus Cam Newton. Now, I’m not so ignorant as to ignore the racial undertones of this conversation that have been picked up on by the media but I just think them to be less than helpful for the current conversation. So moving that aside, I want to focus on the good old-fashioned debate of youth versus experience and Hash it Out with you good people of the internet whom I have never met.

The MMA Legends

I can remember growing up in the 90s and watching the VHS tapes of Royce Gracie, Frank Shamrock, and all the legends of old in the MMA world. Then when the sport emerged into the national spotlight in the early 2000’s with the Ultimate Fighter series, the old hats started throwing themselves into the ring again. Unfortunately, there was a new class of warrior champion who had risen to the top like Tito Ortiz, Matt Hughes, and Chuck Liddell just to name a few who were not keen on giving the old men the glory for which they had worked to achieve.


I remember watching Matt Hughes defeat Royce Gracie as well as watching Chuck Liddell similarly knockout whoever he wanted it will. Then came along yet another generation of warrior elite such as George St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Rampage Jackson, and so on. But if you’re starting to get the theme here, is that the old hats can only hold off the young bucks for so long when it comes to a game of physical ability.

There’s always a certain sentiment to believe the generation in which he grew up on is the best, but biology and actual fight results never seem to lie. MMA is a sport of man versus man and no other. When you’re defeated in the octagon you have no person to blame but yourself and no one to credit but your opponent. For that reason, it is probably about as honest as you get in the world sport. And for that reason, I believe both Cam Newton and Peyton Manning could learn a lot from its example.

Youth Versus Experience

Unfortunately, in the NFL, the impact of one man is watered down via the other 10 on the field with them at the time. Either quarterback could be the greatest thing to set foot on the field but if the five men in front of them can’t block the game will end in disaster. Cam Newton represented youth and the new phase of football in distinctive fashion and Peyton Manning represented the old guard. And while Peyton Manning might have come out the victor, there is not an honest assessor of sport in the world who would tell you that he is the reason the Broncos won.


Cam Newton might have lost, but there is not an honest General Manger in the NFL who would pay Peyton Manning more money than Cam Newton to play football for them next year. If this were an MMA fight, Newton and would’ve crushed Manning even if they were of similar physical build because Peyton is done and has been for some time.  Peyton Manning played perhaps the worst season of his career and threw for nearly twice as many interceptions as he did touchdowns. Meanwhile Cam Newton played the best year of his career and became the NFL MVP.  Manning should call it quits which he likely will and Newton should step into the ring next year with confidence knowing his day has come.



Regardless of the outcome the Super Bowl, I’m of the opinion that youth entering its prime beats experience in the twilight of its career 10 times out of 10. Yes, the Broncos did win, but you can thank Von Miller for that.  And as if to sum up the same point, von Miller partied with little Wayne at the celebration party while Peyton Manning apparently went home and drank a lot of Budweiser.  In sport, there will always exists the debate of youth versus experience and when it comes to disparity like Newton versus Manning, I’d chose youth.  Perhaps there is a golden age where experience peaks before youth subsides, but I’m going with every time because at least the future will be bright.  What say you world, Hash it Out and tell me where you land.



Jeff Edwards