After a tough decision victory over Carlos Condit, one in which a 50-45 or 49-46 scorecard didn’t tell the whole story, the tides turned to the next fight for the reigning, defending UFC welterweight champion. Who was next for GSP? He remained non-committal, wanting to take a brief respite before considering his options, and two firm options appear to be on the table. But he should be only looking at one: Anderson Silva.
He could defend his title sooner than later against Johny Hendricks, who announced his arrival to the top of the division with an emphatic knockout of Martin Kampmann only minutes before GSP stepped into the cage. Hendricks and his elite level wrestling, as well as that anvil of a left hook, remain an interesting challenge. Hendricks has a remarkable amount of amateur wrestling bonafides and yet the Canadian without any prior wrestling experience in MMA will have an advantage in that department. He could make a spectacular amount of money and fight in his native Canada against the stout Oklahoma product. But with all due respect to Hendricks, who by all rights deserves his shot at the champion, the fight the UFC needs to get done is Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva.
The super-fight for the ages has been an option for both fighters for some time but challenges always seem to come up when trying to arrange it; Silva has the challenge of Chael Sonnen to turn back and the welterweight division always had a challenger for GSP. Throw in a knee injury to GSP and the matchup of the two best “pound for pound” fighters is nearing its window for relevance.
In a year or two Silva will be looking at leaving MMA, as he’s nearing 40. He’s still arguably at his peak as a fighter, even though his athletic peak is behind him, and there’s an ever closing window for him. This is the fight that has intrigued fans for years, of Silva’s ridiculous counter-striking style against GSP’s incredible explosiveness, and it needs to be made for one reason: because it’ll be the biggest fight in MMA history between perhaps the two greatest fighters to ever compete in the sport.
MMA has had big fights, and massive gates, but it has yet to have its Frasier-Ali “Fight of the Century” moment. That moment when the whole world stops and tunes in, to see one singular event of such epic proportions that it feels like the world stops rotating for a moment. GSP-Silva is that fight.
Does it hold up two divisions for what’s essentially a fight for bragging rights, to settle the hypothetical as opposed to prove anything tangible in either division? Of course it does … but sometimes things like these need to happen. Hendricks is going to get his shot to prove he’s the best 170 pounder in the world. Eventually Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping, Vitor Belfort or Tim Boetsch will challenge to be the best 185 pounder in the world. Titles are going to be defended but sometimes putting a division on hold for a moment to witness something this monumental needs to happen.
This is a rare opportunity to see the two best fighters in the world, who aren’t separated by much in terms of size, figure out who’s the best. That’s the kick in all of this: neither fighter is going to have an overly massive size advantage.
Silva walks around between 190-5 or so and has a minimal cut to make. GSP is in a similar range, probably closer to 185. Neither man is going to have a significant size advantage as neither has the massive weight cuts that many high profile fighters do, as well. Neither fighter gets significantly bigger than their opponent on fight day, as opposed to weigh-in day. Both can probably make a catch-weight of 178 lbs without difficulty, either. Sometimes a fight can be bigger than just to see who the best in the world is at a weight class; sometimes pride and immortality have to be on the line, if only once.
Would Hendricks vs. GSP draw well? Of course … GSP in Canada remains one of the UFC’s high points fiscally. Even a “down” GSP gate crossed $3 million, a number many high profile stars haven’t sniffed at in terms of gate receipts. There’s money and intrigue in GSP’s next fight.
Would Anderson Silva vs. his next challenger draw well? Of course it will. Silva isn’t nearly the PPV star that GSP is but does respectable numbers regularly. He’s also a significant star in his native Brazil, something that often gets overlooked in our North American-centric viewpoint of the sport.
But here’s the thing: why should we settle for a big PPV fight in Silva and GSP’s next title defenses respectively when we could have the biggest fight in MMA history? The spectacle of the Rogers Center in Toronto, with 55,000 plus in attendance, could be dwarfed by 80,000 plus in Dallas Cowboys Stadium in the spring of 2013. The chance for a moment of greatness, instead of an extended period of good, is too great to just go with the status quo and let champions keep defending. A spectacle like this can only happen in a tight window and we’re nearing the end of time enough where both fighters mean something substantial.
Years from now we’ll be wondering what could’ve been if Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. ever fought. Boxing fans have wanted that fight for years and odds are it’s not going to happen. We have that rare moment in MMA to pull this off, to put the two best fighters and the greatest champions of their weight classes ever opposite one another. You only get one chance at greatness and immortality; everything else is uncivilized.
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