COMMENTARY | 2013 was supposed to be the year of the super-fight. It was supposed to be the year where we finally see the top fighters in the UFC crossover divisions and meet to settle the arguments that UFC fans have had for years. However, to the dismay of the fans, it appears that 2013 will pass us by without a long awaited super-fight.
Anderson Silva has been at the top of the list as a guy who people want to see in a so-called super-fight. Since winning the UFC middleweight title in 2006, Silva has been regarded as the world's top MMA fighter. UFC president Dana White has long touted Silva as the worlds best and it is hard to come up with argument refuting that claim. Silva has defended the UFC middleweight title 10 consecutive times. Not only that, but Silva is 16-0 in the UFC. Many guys do not last 8 fights in the UFC much less win 8 fights, Silva has won 16 fights in a row.
Dominant is the only word that can be used to describe Silva's run in the UFC.
2006 was also a year for another guy to rise to the top. That guy is current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. St-Pierre became the middleweight champion by defeating Matt Hughes at UFC 65 in late 2006. St-Pierre though, had a small hiccup as he was defeated during his first title defense against huge underdog Matt Serra. That loss was probably the best thing that ever happened to St-Pierre.
Since that upset, St-Pierre has won 11 straight fights including a dominant victory over Serra to regain the UFC welterweight title. He has also defended the title on eight occasions and like Silva is regarded as one of the world's best.
When you talk about top pound-for-pound fighters in the world you are forced to talk about Jon Jones. At the tender age of 24, Jones became the youngest champion in the history of the UFC when he defeated Shogun Rua for the UFC light heavyweight title. Since that victory, Jones has done something that neither Silva or St-Pierre has done. Jones has defended the title five times but the difference is that four of those defenses came against former champions.
Jones has made quick work of challengers to his title and earned himself a place in the discussion of who is the best fighter in the UFC.
All three men have walked different paths to where they are. Where they are is a place that few have been able to reach in a sport that is still relatively in infancy. However, the question still remains. Who is the best and will these guy ever meet in the octagon?
The key to the equation is Anderson Silva. Silva is the only guy who could legitimately face both men. It would be a stretch for St-Pierre to meet Jones at light heavyweight as St-Pierre is still uncertain a move middleweight is best for him. Obviously Jon Jones, who is talking about moving to heavyweight in early 2014, could not make welterweight. So the only options left are for Silva to move up and face Jones or for him to possibly move down to face St-Pierre.
The closer we get to a possible super-fight the less certain St-Pierre sounds of a move to middleweight. Silva has said before that he would be willing to move down to welterweight to make the fight happen but at this point that seems very unlikely. A catch-weight fight could be an option but Dana White has stated he would rather see the two meet in a proper weight class so that a title can be on the line.
It seems as though Anderson Silva has been eager to face St-Pierre and less interested in fighting Jones. Could it be that Silva and his camp believe St-Pierre is a better match-up for him? Of course that is the case. At this point in the careers of both Silva and St-Pierre they are fighting for legacy. They are both proven champions.
If Silva fought St-Pierre and won only to then face Jones and lose it would not be as big of a deal as if he were to lose to Jones only to later down the road face St-Pierre. Not only that but if Silva were to face St-Pierre and defeat him, think of how much more important a fight with Jones would mean in terms of what Silva would be remembered by not to mention the money it would command.
St-Pierre seems to be growing more comfortable with the fact that a fight with Anderson Silva will not happen as he feels the only way it would work would be for him to move to middleweight permanently and vacate the UFC welterweight title. Taking the side of St-Pierre, what fighter would ever want to vacate their title? The size difference between Silva and St-Pierre is a legitimate concern. St-Pierre is not like B.J. Penn who was willing to fight pretty much anyone regardless of weight.
Many fans would ask the question, why are these guys not jumping at the chance to face one another? Don't these guys want to be regarded as the best?
The answer is simple. Money.
If Silva jumped up a year ago and said 'I want Jon Jones' he would have potentially left money on the table. If you think Dana White does not offer these guys money above and beyond their agreed pay to fight certain fights you are forgetting this is the fight business. There is no doubt that was the case for Silva to fight Chael Sonnen for a second time.
The difference maker here is that Silva has just signed a new 10 fight deal with the UFC and there is no doubt that White made room for potential super-fights in the contract.
During the UFC 159 post fight press conference, White eluded to the fact that Anderson Silva called him and requested a fight with someone. White was not saying who, but it had to be Jones. Silva would not call up and request a fight with Chael Sonnen or Roy Nelson would he? The only difference between a month ago and now is Silva's new contract. Money changes people's minds all the time.
All paths lead to something big happening in 2014, but didn't we say that about 2013? What will it take to make a fight between two of these three guys? Only Silva, Jones and St-Pierre know the answer to that question.
Greg Garcia has been covering MMA since 2009 on various sites and has covered live events in Texas held by the UFC, Strikeforce, and Bellator. Read more from Greg here.
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- Martial Arts
- Anderson Silva
- Jon Jones
- Dana White