Longtime middleweight champion Anderson Silva recently told Brazilian TV network, SporTV, that his refusal to entertain the idea of a battle against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is wavering.
Apparently, Silva, while not very intrigued by the bout, isn’t set in stone in his insistence to avoid a collision with the lethal Jon “Bones” Jones.
From a fan’s standpoint, that’s the kind of declaration that gets the salivary gland working overtime.
Outside of a collision with fellow top pound-for-pound considerate, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones is the opponent the MMA world wants to see “The Spider” tangle with.
Both men have looked virtually unstoppable during their UFC tenure, and both sit perched atop their respective divisions—with very few proven challengers lining up to challenge for their divisional gold.
Georges St-Pierre should certainly find himself in a more comfortable position in this debate, but given the rash of young welterweight prospects emerging, the Canadian champion could have his hands full for a few years to come.
Jones, on the other hand, has done a fair job of disposing all top threats at the 205-pound division, and the combat community has called for the high profile dream match of Bones versus the Spider.
Despite Silva's record—collecting 16 victories against zero defeats inside the UFC octagon—a sizable portion of pundits have all but disregarded any chance of a Silva victory should he step into the cage opposite the lanky light heavyweight champion.
It’s no outlandish stretch to consider Jones a favorite in this fantasy matchup—his reach alone makes for a remarkably difficult target to find.
The fact that he’s superb at utilizing range and possesses a potent wrestling pedigree only magnifies the danger for Silva in this bout. However, to count Anderson out of any fight is ludicrous.
While Jones is indeed the larger man—and his staggering 84.5” reach is a measurement rivaled by few in any combat sport—there are holes in his overall game.
These are holes that few fighters could capitalize on, but Silva is always an exception to the rule.
Overcoming Jones’ reach would be a daunting task, but Anderson has precision, efficiency and uncanny timing on his side.
Jones, though extremely effective inside the cage, can be a bit wild. We’ve seen what happens when someone hurls a reckless spinning backfist at Silva—one miscalculation with Jon’s trademark spinning elbow and it could be a rough outing for the 25-year-old.
Should this matchup happen in the near future, Jones will also have speed to worry about.
Anderson is unquestionably the faster fighter, and when you couple his speed with his pinpoint accuracy, it’s not inconceivable that Anderson could time Jon flawlessly, and land the lone blow required to send the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative crashing to the mat.
Insiders will point to Jones’ wrestling as the ultimate factor in this fight, as even a bold Bones probably wouldn’t favor a technical striking match with Anderson. However, Jones' approach to wrestling within the confines of a mixed martial arts match aren’t exactly traditional.
The average wrestler favors single and double leg takedowns. The reason being is rather simple: it’s easier to close distance and snatch a leg or two than it is to secure a body lock, which is the position from which Jones' wrestling truly shines.
The idea of Jones wrapping Silva up long enough to utilize his sneaky sweeps and powerful slams seems rather unlikely.
Now, if you eliminate wrestling from this proposed collision, you’re left with a talented striker who boasts an unfathomable reach against the most accurate striker in MMA (who never misses the chance to capitalize on even the smallest of errors).
I’m not an oddsmaker, and I admittedly lack in-cage time, but I’m confident in saying that Anderson has a very solid chance of emerging victorious should this fight be booked within the near future.
Silva still performs in top form at age 37. Book this fight inside the next 18 months, and Anderson enters this affair with more than a solid shot at victory.
It may not even be outrageous to consider Silva the favorite.
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