Anderson Silva vs GSP and 20 Superfights We Wish We Could Have Seen

Andrew SaundersCorrespondent IIJuly 30, 2012

Anderson Silva vs GSP and 20 Superfights We Wish We Could Have Seen

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    Over the course of the last five years, both Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva have ruled their respective weight classes with an iron fist. Since joining the UFC roster, the dominant warriors have put together an unbelievable record of 29-1, which includes two title wins and 18 title defenses.

    The sole loss during that period came when GSP fell to tremendous underdog Matt Serra in a fight that was later avenged at UFC 83.

    At several moments in their mutual title reigns, Dana White and fans alike have openly spoke of their desire to see this superfight happen. With Silva's manager, Jorge Guimaraes, recently stating that GSP is the only fight that makes sense for The Spider, those talks are once again on the forefront of many fans.

    St-Pierre has a trio of challengers that are staring him in the face upon his return from a 19-month layoff, so it appears that his dance card is full for the foreseeable future; however, it doesn't hurt to think about what could have been.

    Here is a look at 20 superfights, past and present, that we wish we could see. Not all of these fights were obvious, nor were they all in hot demand, but each one represents a fight that could have had major implications on the MMA world as we know it.

Ken Shamrock vs Tank Abbott

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    Era: 1997

     

    Background

    The origins of this grudge match goes back to UFC 11, when Tank Abbott was scheduled to meet Lion's Den fighter Jerry Bohlander in the second round of the tournament. Exhausted from his 15-minute battle in the first round, Bohlander was pulled from the bout by Shamrock, and Abbott was forced to fight fresh opponent Scott Ferrozzo, and lost.

    Abbott was not pleased with the decision and wanted to take out his frustrations on Shamrock. With each man in the top half of the Ultimate Ultimate 2 bracket, a collision course was set for the tournament's second round.

    Although both Shamrock and Abbott would win their first round matchup, Shamrock pulled out of the tournament due to a broken hand suffered in the opening round.

    Tank would publicly call out Shamrock, and the two traded insults for quite some time. Before a fight could come together, Ken joined the World Wrestling Federation and left his UFC days behind him.

    With both pioneers of the sport trudging along on the independent circuit, it's shocking that no promoter has been able to put this fight together at any point in the last 15 years. Maybe it will happen, but at this point, you would be hard-pressed to find an audience that cared.

Rickson Gracie vs Kazushi Sakuraba

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    Era: 2000

     

    Background

    With victories over four members of the famed Gracie clan, Royler, Royce, Renzo and Ryan, Japanese fighter Kazushi Sakuraba had taken on the appropriate nickname of "The Gracie Hunter."

    However, the Gracie family champion was not a member of Sakuraba's hit list. Undefeated Rickson Gracie had put together an impressive 11-0 career that began in 1980.

    PRIDE FC made a generous offer to Gracie in order to convince  him to take the fight instead of taking a 2001 Coliseum fight against Nagoya Ogawa.

    "That fight would have been the biggest payout of all times," according to Rickson. "They offered me five million dollars, it would have put me on easy street. He beat a number of Gracies, and it would have been a good fight for me, perhaps the best fight. He really was a thorn in the side of all the Gracies."

    Tragically, Rickson would lose his son in December of 2000 and would retire from the sport during his time of grief. Although, there was a brief glimmer of hope in 2007 when Rickson showed up at a HERO's show, and Sakuraba said that he would be up for a fight.

    Nothing came from the bout, and since that time, Rickson has yet to step back into a cage, while Sakuraba has done major damage to his legacy by winning only 14 of his next 28 fights.

Don Frye vs Big Nog

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    Era: 2002

     

    Background

    In 2002, Don Frye was one of the top heavyweights in the world and had won two UFC tournaments and put together a 3-0 record while fighting for PRIDE.

    In fact, his past two appearances in the Japanese organization saw Frye persevere against Ken Shamrock in what was thought to be a title eliminator and then go on to win a fight of the year against Yoshihiro Takayama.

    Both Frye and then-champion Minotauro Nogueira would compete at PRIDE 23; however, they did not face off against one another. Instead, Nogueira battled Semmy Schilt in a non-title fight while Frye squared off against Olympic gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida.

    Frye lost his fight via submission when the Olympian locked in an armbar, and his career never recovered. 

Royce Gracie vs BJ Penn

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    Era: Early 2005

     

    Background

    On New Year's Eve 2004, Royce Gracie showed the world once again that no size advantage can make up for the benefits of being well-versed in Gracie jiu-jitsu when he submitted sumo legend Akebono Taro.

    Entering 2005, BJ Penn was also looking to fight against the best challenges that the world could offer. Penn was in the middle of a four-fight winning streak that saw him rip championships from the hands of Takanori Gomi and Matt Hughes.

    The Gracies are a proud family and will look to avenge a loss that their family may suffer. When BJ Penn handed Rodrigo Gracie his first professional loss, there was little doubt that "The Prodigy" would square off with another member of MMA's first family.

    Both men inevitably made their way back to the UFC in 2006, and both men fell to champion Matt Hughes. 

Shogun Rua vs Wanderlei Silva

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    Era: Early 2006

     

    Background

    Sometimes obvious superfights don't happen because the fighters are close, either as friends or as training partners. In the case of PRIDE standouts Shogun Rua vs Wanderlei Silva, the combatants view the other as family.

    This fight could have happened against the will of each man, as Shogun and Wanderlei were both entrants in the 2005 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix. However, The Axe Murderer was upset by Ricardo Arona in the tournament semifinals, and the collision course between teammates was narrowly avoided.

    Shogun would go on to avenge his teammate and defeat Arona in the tournament final, and in the process, became one of the hottest 205-pound fighters in the world.

Mirko Cro Cop vs Randy Couture

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    Era: August 2007

     

    Background

    Do you ever wonder why Jake Shields, Nick Diaz and Dan Henderson were thrown into the title scene after only one fight in the UFC? Many people point to the fight that should have been between Mirko Cro Cop and Randy Couture as the reason.

    World-ranked heavyweight Mirko Cro Cop made his UFC debut in February 2007 against Eddie Sanchez and finished his opponent with strikes in the first round.

    While Joe Silva could have immediately thrust the Croatian into a title bout with Randy Couture, he instead booked unranked submission-whiz Gabriel Gonzaga against the PRIDE mega-star at UFC 70.

    Stealing a play out of his opponent's book, Gonzaga landed a vicious head kick that knocked out Cro Cop and dissolved this superfight into ashes.

Randy Couture vs Fedor Emelianenko

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    Era: December 2007

     

    Background

    With PRIDE FC housing many of the world's best heavyweight fighters, it is no surprise that this list would feature some UFC vs PRIDE heavyweight matchups. 

    Before Fedor's days under the shackles of tyrannical management M-1 Global, the PRIDE heavyweight champion looked to fight UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture in a bout that was being described as the fight of the century.

    Although his UFC contract forced Couture to turn down a lucrative offer with Bodog, that wasn't The Natural's only hope of getting his hands on The Last Emperor. With Dan Henderson coming to the UFC and unifying his PRIDE titles, many thought that it was just a matter of time before Emelianenko did the same.

    Instead, Fedor signed his infamous contract with M-1 Global and never made his way into the UFC. You would expect the story to end here, but Randy Couture wasn't happy with the fact that he made less money than Chuck Liddell, and he resigned from the organization after the Fedor fight fell through.

    After defeating Tim Sylvia at Affliction: Banned, Fedor was joined by Couture. The showdown seemed inevitable.

    Before a deal could be made, the UFC offered Couture a huge fight with the insanely popular Brock Lesnar. Fans hardly knew what hit them before the fight of the century could only be found in our dreams.

Urijah Faber vs KID Yamamoto

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    Era: Early 2008

     

    Background

    At the end of 2007, KID Yamamoto held a record of 17-1 (1) and was widely considered to be the best lighter weight fighter in the eastern hemisphere.

    Over in the western half of the world, Urijah Faber had done a fantastic job of carving out his legacy as the best featherweight alive. Holding a record of 21-1, Faber was reportedly contacted by K-1 in hopes of putting together a Faber vs Yamamoto superfight on an upcoming show. 

    Unfortunately, the two fighters were signed to different promotions who saw little interest in working together. In the case of K-1, the money was to be made holding the fight in Japan. In the case of the WEC, Zuffa had a strict no co-promotion policy.

    In 2011, Yamamoto was signed to the UFC's bantamweight division, but the fight wasn't put together. Yamamoto has been fed a steady diet of grapplers and went 0-3 in his Octagon tenure. 

Frank Shamrock vs Ken Shamrock

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    Era: Early 2009

     

    Background

    The sibling rivalry between estranged brothers Frank and Ken Shamrock evolved for nearly 15 years. Older brother Ken would accuse Frank of being an ungrateful punk who turned his back on the Lions Den and disrespected their father. In turn, Frank labeled Ken as a paranoid, narcissistic bully who had done everything possible to hamper his career. 

    In November of 2007, EliteXC owner Gary Shaw announced that he was planning to promote a megafight between the brothers in early 2009.

    Both of the Shamrock boys were into the idea. Ken was"...looking forward to getting in there and doing a little sibling rivalry in the ring."

    "We've both signed a contract to fight each other," Frank told ESPN.com. "Ken is down with it. We talked about it two years ago, and we've agreed materially to fight."

Anderson Silva vs Georges St. Pierre

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    Era: 2009

     

    Background

    How many times have we heard talks of this superfight finally coming to fruition, only to be let down?

    With the dominance of both men inside the UFC cage, it seemed to be a sure thing that one fighter would climb the walls of the adjacent division and challenge the other. 

    Both men have set divisional records for title defenses, and each has sat atop the pound-for-pound list for most of the past five years. Not only would this fight break PPV records, but it would identify the true king of MMA.

Anderson Silva vs Lyoto Machida

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    Era: 2009

     

    Background

    Anderson Silva had done an incredible job of shutting down the UFC's middleweight division. In fact, he cleaned out his division to the point that Thales Leites and Patrick Cote were suddenly deemed worthy of a title shot.

    After the champion quickly dispatched of former UFC light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin with minimal ease, many hoped that Silva would consider a run at 205 and challenge undefeated champion Lyoto Machida for the belt.

    Just entering the Machida era, it appeared as if Silva was the only man capable of beating the champion who held a 15-0 record, along with victories over Rashad Evans, Rich Franklin and BJ Penn.

    At the UFC 101 press conference, Dana White expressed interest in the idea, but Silva wasted no time in squashing the idea of fighting his friend and Black House training partner. 

Brock Lesnar vs Fedor Emelianenko

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    Era: 2009

     

    Background

    After UFC 100, Brock Lesnar was a former WWE champion, the current UFC champion and the biggest star in the business. If the UFC could find an opponent with enough name value who could pose an actual threat to Lesnar, they would be looking at the biggest fight in sports history.

    Enter Fedor Emelianenko.

    After the shutdown of Affliction, The Last Emperor was the PRIDE and WAMMA heavyweight champion and also held the phenomenal record of 30-1 (1). 

    Undefeated for the past nine years, Emelianenko was widely considered the be the top heavyweight in the history of the sport. If he were to sign on with the UFC, fans across the world would debate endlessly as to how the fight would go down.

    When M-1 Global tried to negotiate a deal that Dana White deemed ludicrous, it seemed that the fight was going to be harder to sign than originally anticipated. 

    Emelianenko would not sign with the UFC, but rather with Strikeforce. Fedor would lose three consecutive fights with the organization and ruin his marketability forever. Likewise, Lesnar would lose back-to-back fights and leave the sport in order to return to the WWE.

Anderson Silva vs Shogun Rua

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    Era: March 2011

     

    Background

    At UFC 126, a stellar performance by Jon Jones saw the young challenger dominate Ryan Bader. Although teammate Rashad Evans was scheduled to fight Shogun Rua six weeks later, the Ultimate Fighter star was injured and forced out of the contest.

    In the post-fight interview, Jonny Bones was asked to step in and get a crack at the UFC light-heavyweight championship.

    However, another man who fought on that card could have challenged Shogun Rua in a fight that would have drawn more than 1,000,000 buys on pay-per-view: Anderson Silva.

    Dana White had previously attempted to book Anderson Silva against Lyoto Machida for the UFC light-heavyweight championship, but their Black House connections cause both men to reject the offer. With Shogun holding the belt around his waist, White had a new opportunity to cash in on The Spider's ability to fight in two weight classes.

    I'm not suggesting that Jones wasn't worthy of a title shot. I'm simply pointing out that many didn't buy him as a legitimate title contender. Even with Urijah Faber in the co-main event, UFC 128 sold less than a half million PPVs.

    Shogun lost the belt in his first title defense, and this superfight between champions fell to the wayside.

Alistair Overeem vs Fedor Emelianenko

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    Era: Mid 2010

     

    Background

    When Fedor Emelianenko signed on with Strikeforce, it was assumed that he would immediately challenge for the organization's heavyweight championship. With dutch kickboxer Alistair Overeem holding that title, the Overeem/Emelianenko pairing seemed inevitable.

    Overeem had gone 9-1 (1) since moving up to heavyweight full-time. With a monstrous physique and a calm demeanor, the soft-spoken Demolition Man is an intimidating force to most. 

    Apparently, Fedor was not interested in the fight, as he openly rejected a title opportunity in lieu of fighting lesser-regarded opponents like Brett Rogers and Fabricio Werdum.

    This superfight almost happened in 2011 as part of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix; however, Emelianenko was eliminated in the first round after being shut down by Antonio Bigfoot Silva.

Gilbert Melendez vs Eddie Alvarez

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    Era: October 2011

     

    Background

    Both Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez were successful in defending their belts in April 2011. Additionally, both men were riding seven-fight winning streaks and were considered talented enough to be ranked top 10 in the world without competing in the UFC.

    With Strikeforce president Scott Coker on board with the idea of a Bellator/Strikeforce co-promotion for the sake of making this fight happen, it appeared that a dream fight was capable outside of the UFC's walls.

    Then, the unexpected happened.

    In March of 2011, UFC parent company Zuffa purchased Strikeforce in a blockbuster deal. While Dana White reported that Strikeforce's business operations would be "business as usual," the strict "no co-promotion" policy put a quick end to this lightweight megafight.

    Alvarez has one fight left on his Bellator contract, and the UFC could sign him and send him into Strikeforce if they decided that it's worth it. Is it likely? No. But it's fun to think about.

Frankie Edgar vs Gilbert Melendez

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    Era: 2011

     

    Background

    Some pundits have gone as far as to say that Gilbert Melendez is the best lightweight alive. Perhaps that's a bold claim to make because we have yet to see how the Cesar Gracie student handles himself against an elite member of the UFC roster. However, it's safe to say that he has undoubtedly been in the top five ever since his shutout performance against Shinya Aoki in 2010.

    When Frankie Edgar finished his trilogy with Gray Maynard last October, the UFC had recently completed their purchase of Strikeforce, and we were watching champions Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Dan Henderson and Alistair Overeem make their way into the Octagon. Why wouldn't we assume that Melendez was also on his way?

    To date, Melendez remains the only male champion at the time of purchase who has not transitioned into the UFC.

    While the UFC lightweight division has a constant flow of elite contenders, Melendez maintained the appearance of being head and shoulders above them all. A title unification bout would have confirmed that the UFC truly is home to the best fighters in the world.

Georges St. Pierre vs Nick Diaz

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    Era: October 2011

     

    Background

    Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz was on a tear after leaving the UFC in 2005. Putting together a record of 12-1 (1) since walking away from Zuffa, Diaz had won the Strikeforce welterweight championship and several epic fights, including bouts with legends Frank Shamrock, Takanori Gomi and Hayato Sakurai. 

    With Georges St. Pierre running out of credible challengers at a breathtaking rate, Diaz was one of few threats who was not only marketable, but also talented enough to pull off the upset.

    In controversial fashion (or "The Diaz Way"), Diaz no-showed two press conferences leading up to the UFC 137 contest, which led to Dana White removing the Stockton bad boy from the title fight. 

    After Diaz dominated BJ Penn at the same event, the fight was rebooked for February of 2012. Unfortunately, GSP reinjured his ACL while training for the fight and has yet to step back into the Octagon.

Junior Dos Santos vs Alistair Overeem

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    Era: May 2012

     

    Background

    Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem dispatched of top contenders Fabricio Werdum and Brock Lesnar. UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos had recently topped Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez. 

    Overeem was on a massive winning streak, while dos Santos had yet to be beaten in his eight-fight UFC career.  With both men preferring the standup game, not only would this battle be a fan-friendly affair that guarantees fireworks, but the unofficial title unification bout between the two would crown one as the greatest heavyweight fighter on the planet. 

    A surprise drug-test following a UFC 146 press conference would show that Alistair Overeem had T/E levels that greatly exceeded the limit allowed by the NSAC. The failed drug test resulted in a nine-month suspension and killed any chance that this fight would occur in 2012.

    Overeem is eligible to return at the end of the year, but likely would not be booked for a fight until he has received a new license to fight. There is potential that this superfight takes place in early 2013.

Jon Jones vs Junior Dos Santos

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    Era: ASAP

     

    Background

    Jon Jones has quickly destroyed every fighter who has stood in his path. Since the beginning of 2011, Jones has massacred five members of the divisional top 10, including Ryan Bader, Shogun Rua, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson. If Bones can get past Dan Henderson next month, he will have emptied the talent pool.

    Dana White commented post-fight at UFC 145 that Jones will eventually need to move to heavyweight.

    The guy eventually is going to naturally have to go to heavyweight because he's so big...He's 24 years old, and as he gets older, it's going to be harder to cut that weight. It's going to be harder to stay as lean as he is, and it'll just naturally happen.

    While the heavyweight division is home to monsters who utilize every ounce of the 265-pound limit, reigning champion Junior dos Santos typically weighs in in the upper 230s. With Jonny Bones entering the cage around 220 pounds, the size difference in this superfight would not be too drastic.

    Could the stellar boxing skills of dos Santos be enough to overcome the speed, creative striking and 7.5-inch reach advantage of the Greg Jackson standout?

    I'm not sure, but I'd be willing to bet that no less than one million fans are willing to pay to find out.

Anderson Silva vs Jon Jones

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    Era: ASAP

     

    Background

    Anderson Silva's multi-divisional success has made him the pivot man in conversations about superfights. Who could have predicted that the middleweight champion would not only agree to face former light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, but make him look foolish in the process?

    With the phenomenal showing of Jon Jones, it is possible that Jones/Silva has taken over the spot in our hearts that was once occupied by Silva/St-Pierre for so long?

    Unfortunately, this is a fight that neither man wants to take. Jones would rather keep Silva as a mentor and a friend.

    My job is to be prepared to face the best in the world. I'd rather not deal with Anderson, but if I have to fight him, I will focus on my confidence and on my technique. I respect and look up to him so much. For me, the ideal scenario would be having him as my mentor and learn with him after he retires. It would be great for me. That would be ideal, but the world wants to see us fighting.

    There is a bit of a gray area here if Jones would avoid this fight due to a budding friendship with Silva. While fights have historically been pushed aside due to combatants sharing a training camp, this would mark the first time that Jackson's MMA and Black House fighters have such a strong relationship that it prevents a fight.

    Jones doesn't even speak Portugese. Does he?

    In the end, one thing is for sure. Either fans would witness a changing of the guard in mixed martial arts, or Anderson Silva would ensure that the budding career of Jon Jones will never be able to surpass his legacy.