In the wake of the UFC 153 showcase in Brazil, the constant question in the MMA world has been "Who's next for Anderson Silva?"
And, for the most part, that answer has been the light-heavyweight king Jon Jones.
Ever since Jones' fight with Stephan Bonnar (go figure), he has been regarded as a phenomenal talent and the future of the fight world for years to come. Given his physique, with his arms the length of Dwight Howard, and his unorthodox striking, the argument holds a lot of weight.
Realistically, anyone in his family could be a UFC contender. His brother Arthur is a defensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens and his younger brother Chandler is a defensive end for the New England Patriots.
There have been many challenges to his throne, and I would have to say Vitor Belfort got the closest, using Jones' long arms against him in an attempt to armbar off his back, and pull off possibly one of the biggest upsets in the history of the UFC. He is still young and a huge light heavyweight, and there is no doubt he has the potential to have the dominance like Anderson has had on his division.
However, I think that some people are missing another factor. Before Jon Jones became the mystical phenom that he is now, we were talking about another fighter in that same regard: welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
Before GSP blew out his knee, he was running through the competition. Everyone knew he was going to out wrestle you, and there was nothing you could do. Examples that come to mind are Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves, the Matt Serra rematch, even UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes.
Also, the amazing thing about GSP is that he did not wrestle in college or any other form of competition. He went from being known for his outstanding kickboxing to being capable of making the Canadian Olympic wrestling team if he felt like it. He is a freak athlete, and takes on new techniques like Neo learning kung fu in The Matrix.
Although people are still screaming for the Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva matchup, I think we need to take a step back and reconsider. People have almost forgotten about GSP, because he has been on the shelf for so long. I feel like GSP would be a better fight for Anderson and is more appropriate now, and here's why:
When making a matchup, you have to break down the possible way—if there is one—to beat Anderson Silva. You need a top-class wrestler with good-to-great Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills to avoid submissions, and maybe even go for a few if there is an opening.
Now, before anyone stops reading the article and responds, “Dude, that's Chris Weidman," he is not a factor in this topic, because we are talking about the best fighters ever, and he is not there yet (or you're probably from New York of New Jersey with a hometown pick).
Anyway, while both Jones and St. Pierre qualify under this facet of the game, considering Jones has submitted the likes of former champs Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort with flawless technique, and GSP submitted Matt Hughes, who is known as a phenomenal ground fighter in his own right (if I'm not mistaken, he's not officially a black-belt, but he is easily qualified to be one).
These potential matchups aren't just about beating “The Spider”; they're about putting on the best exhibition of mixed martial arts the world may ever see. Jon Jones is a phenom, there's no doubt about that. But it's simply not his time yet.
Another factor is his size. Since Jones is a huge light heavyweight, there is a chance he would bully Silva around and make the fight not as fun and exciting to watch. The fans do not want to buy this pay- per-view or buy tickets to see a possible lay-and-pray game plan, always a possibility with Greg Jackson as the head trainer of a fighter.
In comparison to Anderson, GSP might be a tad smaller right now when it comes to size. St-Pierre is a massive welterweight. He made Matt Hughes look like an infant in their last encounter, and Hughes was always known for being bigger and stronger than his opponents.
The reason GSP would look small at middleweight is because he is constantly planning on cutting weight to make the 170-lb class he's been fighting in his whole career. Whenever he has been asked about the possibility of fighting Anderson, he has always brought up that he would want to take a little bit of time off before the fight in order to gain weight the right way.
GSP is a very intelligent fighter. He knows that if he took the Silva fight without putting on some muscle, he would be in deep trouble. Also, being a freak athlete always helps, so it's not like he would need an extensive amount of time to gain muscle mass, nor would he look like he has a gut at 185 lbs. So come fight time, I would bet that the weight differential between St-Pierre and Silva would be minimal and not a game-changing factor in the fight.
Do I think that Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva would be a bad fight? Probably not. Whenever you have two of the best going at each other in any arena of competition, you're not going to be let down. However, I just think that Jon Jones is still evolving.
Given his age, and that he's still growing—if that's humanly possible—no one really knows his ceiling. No one knows how good he can really be.
I personally think that we are not going to see any new tricks from Anderson or GSP anytime soon. Will you see amazing head movement from the 185-lb king that will have you swearing at the television about how talented he is? Most likely, but I doubt against GSP.
The point is, GSP and Anderson do not have any new surprises to bring to the table. They are both getting up there in age (Anderson more than GSP) and I feel like we know what we are going to see out of them, which is not a bad thing in the sense that we know how talented they both are. I'm not saying I know how the fight would go, I'm saying that we know how good they both are.
They have been the kings of their weight class for a long time (Carlos Condit does not count as a champion, considering he didn't take it away from St-Pierre) and the only real thing left for them to do is fight each other.
Jon Jones still has some time to go before he holds the same dominance these fighters have in their respective weight class. And there is a chance he might not make it by Chael Sonnen, so needless to say, that would put a damper on his project.
Dana White thinks that what the people want is a fight with the Spider and Bones. However, what the people need is a fight with Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva.
Two of the most dominant fighters in their weight class that mixed martial arts has ever seen. It would be a travesty to not see these two men face off in the Octagon.
Let's make this happen first, and then if Silva and Jones win, set up the second fight.