I stand before you today with a confession burning a hole in my heart. It puts me squarely at odds with most of you, the great teeming mass of MMA fandom—and based on our own internal polling and UFC President Dana White's Twitter feed, it's getting lonely out here.
My secret shame?
Although many of you border on obsessive about potential bouts between Anderson Silva and fellow champions Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre, when it comes to superfights, I really just can't muster the energy to care.
That's no slight on the fighters. The UFC's big three—middleweight, light heavyweight and welterweight champion, respectively—are each among the 10 best MMA fighters to ever step inside the UFC's Octagon. Each man is a dangerous combination of physical superiority, amazing skill and unquestionable fight IQ. I'd never, ever miss a chance to see any of them compete.
But against each other?
It leaves me cold.
I've thought about this quite a bit. After all, I've had plenty of time to consider the UFC superfight—Dana White first pitched it to the MMA media way back in 2008 in the months before the second bout between St-Pierre and B.J. Penn. And in those four years, I've come up with two reasons a superfight is a no good, very bad idea.
Short-Term Gain Doesn't Outweigh Long-Term Risk
A superfight would be big business. I don't think there's any doubt about it. Either superfight would easily surpass one million pay-per-view buys and quite possibly, with plenty of luck and the right marketing plan, overtake UFC 100 as the most successful UFC event of all time.
But at what cost?
The UFC is struggling on PPV, down significantly from its 2009 peak. Right now, the UFC has three major stars who can, in the right circumstances, still draw a major crowd for their fights. Not so coincidentally, those are the three fighters who are prominently mentioned in any superfight scenario.
What happens, though, after the dust clears? If Silva makes mincemeat out of St-Pierre or Jones overpowers the seemingly invincible Silva, have you ruined one of the fighters going forward, at least from a box office perspective?
Will fans who have seen St-Pierre destroyed by Silva, for example, still buy him as a significant fighter when he returns to welterweight? I don't think the UFC is in the position to risk going into a superfight with two box office draws and emerging from the chaos with one.
Weight Classes Matter
Twenty pounds separate Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. Fifteen pounds lurk between Silva and St-Pierre. Many fans are willing to dismiss this as insignificant, but in my mind, it makes all the difference.
Weight classes exist for a reason. The size difference becomes even more important in these two potential superfights because they are likely to hinge on whether Silva's opponent is able to get him to the ground and keep him there.
No matter how good the smaller man is, he's at a competitive disadvantage against a larger foe. While Royce Gracie may have proved the little guy's worth in the early days of MMA, an increasingly skilled crop of fighters spent the next 20 years proving he was the exception.
This new generation has eliminated the tactical advantages Gracie used to beat bigger men. Today, fighters like St-Pierre, Jones and Silva are all incredibly skilled. They all have diverse striking and grappling games. They all know the tricks of the trade.
All things being (relatively) equal, size matters. Your girlfriend knows it, and deep down, you know it too. Jones > Silva > GSP. That's not MMA math. That's just fight science.
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