I remember a time when I wanted to see Anderson Silva fight Georges St-Pierre.
I mean, I really wanted it. At the time, they were considered the two best fighters in the world. This was before Chael Sonnen came along and changed everything with his words, before Carlos Condit earned an interim belt by beating the guy everyone wanted to see face St-Pierre. They'd cleared their divisions of most challengers, and so the next logical step was to put them in the cage together and try to figure out which guy was the best fighter in the world.
Times have changed, and they are changing still. Silva dispatched Sonnen (twice), and St-Pierre returned from a long injury layoff to prove that he's still the fighter we once knew he was.
You'd think that would make us even more excited for the superfight that seems closer than ever to actually happening. Both guys are still two of the best fighters in the world, so why wouldn't we want to see it? Especially now, when it seems like an actual possibility instead of a pipe dream?
I don't have the answer to that question. All I know is that I'm not really all that interested in seeing the fight.
There's a good chance my opinion could change as we get closer to the actual fight, if it ends up happening. Three weeks of sublimely produced UFC Primetime episodes will no doubt build the anticipation, and I'd probably end up just as excited to see the fight as I once was.
But right now, I hope it doesn't happen, and I'll tell you why.
When we first started hearing rumors of the fight a few years ago, both guys had effectively cleared their divisions of challengers. That's no longer the case. At middleweight, you have Michael Bisping, Tim Boetsch and Chris Weidman all making strong cases for contendership. At welterweight, you have the obvious candidate in Johny Hendricks, who stamped his place as the top divisional contender by knocking out Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann and beating Josh Koscheck.
I don't know about you, but I'm more interested in seeing Silva and St-Pierre face those challengers than I am in seeing them face each other. I like title fights. Hell, everyone in the world likes title fights. And when you have guys who legitimately deserve to get their shot at the belt, well, you have me intrigued.
Can Hendricks beat St-Pierre? Does Weidman have a chance against Silva? Maybe, maybe not. But both fighters have the skill sets needed to give both champions a run for their money, and now they'll have to sit on the sidelines waiting for Silva and St-Pierre to conduct their business next summer before they finally get the go-ahead.
Which fight would you rather see?
That just doesn't seem fair. I'd much rather see them keep a regular fighting schedule—as regular as possible when it comes to St-Pierre and Silva—than to see them put two of the UFC's brightest divisions on hold for the express purpose of drawing a big pay-per-view number.
There's also the simple fact that there's a massive size difference between St-Pierre and Silva. Sure, St-Pierre looks like a big welterweight when he walks in the cage, but he's still dwarfed by Silva. By his own admission, St-Pierre walked into the cage to face Condit at UFC 154 weighing somewhere around 191 pounds; by contrast, Silva is known to clock in around 205 pounds on fight night.
If the fight were contested at 177 pounds, St-Pierre would need to make up the difference by putting on solid muscle. That extra muscle might affect the way he fights, might take away some of the explosiveness he's known for. It would certainly affect his speed. And Silva, despite having to cut to 177 pounds, would still be able to pack on more weight after stepping on the scale because he's just a much bigger dude than St-Pierre.
I get the feeling that the only way St-Pierre will actually take the fight is if Silva agrees to cut to 170. It's not an unfair request. Silva fought below 170 earlier in his career; granted, that was a long time ago and Silva is older, which makes it harder to shed the kind of pounds he'd need to get down to welterweight. But requiring Silva to fight at 170 would at least put him on equal footing with St-Pierre in terms of the weight they put on after the conclusion of weigh-ins.
I can't see the Silva camp agreeing to a fight at 170. But if he's willing to do it, I think he'd need to drop the middleweight belt and simply make the move to welterweight. At least you'd be freeing up the division and giving the contenders at middleweight their chance to grab the spotlight.
The last reason I'm not all that interested in the fight is a selfish one, but it's one shared by a lot of fans: I just want to see Silva face Jon Jones at light heavyweight.
We know Silva can easily fight at light heavyweight because we've seen him succeed in that division in the UFC. The size difference between Silva and Jones is far less significant than the gulf between Silva and St-Pierre, making it a fair fight determined more by skill than by size.
At the end of the day, we all know this is a business. It's a sport, but it's also a moneymaking machine, and if the UFC can put together a fight like St-Pierre vs. Silva, one that is virtually guaranteed to pull in well over a million pay-per-view buyers, well, you can't blame it for wanting to go down that road. And again, I'll probably be really pumped to see them step in the cage once fight day rolls around; the UFC's promotional machine is very good at making folks want to see the fights they're selling.
But right now, I just want to see both guys defend their belts against the excellent young fighters who have established that they deserve their chance at championship gold. Is that too much to ask?