“Super Fight”. It has been a hot topic as of late with recent whispers and hints being dropped by UFC president Dana White. Despite denials and lack of interest from the involved fighters themselves, we have been hearing from the UFC brass that they will make these fights happen. The question now opens up: will we ever see the super fights? Or are these just more empty promises from the UFC?
A “super fight” is in reality a fight between two major headline contenders. The term has been more popularly attached to cross weight-class fights, but super fights can also happen within weight classes themselves. I harken back to UFC 75 when Dan Henderson and Rampage Jackson squared off for the light heavyweight title; the fight at the time was Henderson’s first fight in the UFC (from PRIDE) and it was champion versus champion. The more popular names that get thrown into the ring more recently are those of Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones – and maybe even Junior Dos Santos. All tops in their divisions, and proven champions.
Why over the last few years has their been so much more discussion about super fights than in the past? Two key reasons come to mind:
Never in the history of the UFC have their been such dominant champions within the top four weight classes all at the same time.
Never in the history of the sport have fighters between weight classes been so close in size.
Let me back track by saying, there HAVE definitely been dominant champions in the UFC prior to this most recent batch. Tito Ortiz, Matt Hughes, even Royce Gracie were all dominant when they were in their prime – and many of their respective records still stood until recently. What makes the current state of affairs in the UFC so interesting, is that the UFC has champions that are on a rinse cycle within their respective divisions (fighting the same challengers more than once) across four different divisions: welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight. All four champions look unbeatable every fight they take.
What makes things even more interesting is that we now have fighters who are bigger than ever before. Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva ten or fifteen years ago would have likely fought at a higher weight class than they do now, but with the evolution of the weight-cut fighters can trim ten-to-twenty pounds in a day before they weigh-in. The reason for doing this, is so fighters can go in much larger than they weighed-in at on their actual fight day and man-handle their opponents; Rich Franklin claimed this was the reason he fought at middleweight for so many years. The significance of this to the super fight, is that we now have champions between weight classes who are very similar in size, and could feasibly fight each other.
So where would the best opportunity for a super fight within the UFC lie? Anderson Silva is the focal point for any super fight discussion, because he could reasonably fight against Georges St. Pierre or Jon Jones. Silva has repeatedly said that he refuses to fight Jon Jones at 205 lbs, and Silva is too big to fight at welterweight – so, St. Pierre moving up to middle weight seems like the most obvious option. St. Pierre has said that he would move up to middleweight in the past, and he definitely has the frame for it. Personally, I really do think St. Pierre has a legitimate chance of beating Silva. Silva has had difficulty with wrestlers in the past (re: Sonnen, Lutter), St. Pierre has one of the best ground games in the UFC today. I could honestly see this fight happening late 2013, as St. Pierre has publicly stated that he needs a year to properly move up to middleweight.
With Silva and St. Pierre fighting, I think this also leaves the door open for Jon Jones to Fight Junior Dos Santos at heavyweight. Jones is more than big enough to move up to heavyweight and has stated numerous times that he would consider doing it at some point. I don’t think Silva would ever fight Jones. Personally, as I think he sees Jones as a worse match-up (given size and skill set) compared to St. Pierre. Just my take.
Earlier I said that Dana White’s proposition of a super fight was nothing more than an “empty promise”. This may be harsh language to use, but you can really only dangle a carrot in front of the masses for so long before a sense of frustration on the behalf of the fan starts to settle in. Dana White in recent post-fight press conferences has “promised” that he will make a super fight happen in the coming months – do we believe him? I definitely want to, but I always cycle back in my head to when Dana White “promised” a super fight between Brock Lesnar and Fedor Emilianenko; the fight never happened and since that time it’s become a little harder to buy into the notion of Dana White’s promises.
I sincerely do hope that I see St. Pierre versus Silva, before Anderson gets too old and the fight becomes irrelevant. It would breathe new life into the a plateauing promotion, and remind us hardcore fans that have become disenchanted why we love the sport so much!