Now that 2012 is almost gone, we are left with the promise of some big fights for 2013. Of course, we all hope they will live up to the hype that has been afforded them, be it by the press, Dana White, or our own imaginations and preconceived notions.
We can look forward to Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar, Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz and scores of other fights, but we continue to wonder about those larger than life superfights becoming reality.
Aldo-Edgar is close to a superfight, as is GSP-Diaz, but they both fall short for a variety of reasons, most due to perception and status in the sport.
That is not to say they can’t be sold as mega-bouts, because they can, but Jose Aldo and GSP will be the men that bring the “super” into the notion of a superfight, and that is where they fall slightly short.
For a real superfight to be, well, super, both men need to carry that load— like Anderson Silva and Jon Jones, for instance.
Still, we shouldn’t let mere technicalities hold us back in our wanting and wondering. There are true superfights out there that could redefine the notion, or at least prove that sometimes, it is enough that one man carry the load as long as the other is willing to share it during the bout itself.
A fight is a coauthored affair, after all, and sometimes public perception isn’t as sharp as it should be, especially with the casual fan who depend on the general media to make their predeterminations.
So, here are 10 fights in that vein that we would love to see; some more than others, but all deserving in their own way of some hope of realization.
If Benson Henderson proved anything in his rout over Nate Diaz, it is that he is a man living and savoring every moment as the UFC lightweight champion.
He possesses the skills and physical gifts to keep right on rolling until he fights a man who can give him problems of both the physical and stylistic kind.
And none may be able to do that quite like Jose Aldo, should he move up to lightweight.
Between the two of them, it is Aldo that is a pound-for-pound front-runner, consistently mentioned in the same breath as Anderson Silva, GSP and Jon Jones.
He is highly skilled, very fast and has a style that simply wrecks opponents when he is on point.
Henderson is no slouch himself, as his main advantages would be in size, strength and wrestling. And that is what would make this contest so compelling: the style clash.
Would Aldo be so fast and lethal with his striking that he would open up Henderson like a book, or would he find himself taken down repeatedly and hammered throughout—anyone remember Round 5 of his bout with Mark Hominick?
Given how athletic both men are, this is a fight that would be all over the place.
For a while now, I have been saying that the uncommon length and use of leverage that Jon Jones employs so effortlessly would be an advantage for him at heavyweight, and I still believe that.
But if anyone would be a good test for that, it would be Cain Velasquez.
Both men have great cardio, and Velasquez could probably match or surpass Jones in a pure grappling contest.
One of the real questions that looms is if Velasquez could stop Jones from taking him down, because if it is Jones who decides when the bout hits the floor, then he will most likely be on top. This, in turn, would put the former heavyweight champ in a world of trouble, given Jones' excellent top game and wingspan.
On the flip side, could Jones actually keep Velasquez down, given how explosive he is? Many thought that as soon as Brock Lesnar got him down under his massive frame, Velasquez would be finished. But we saw just how quick and athletic Velasquez was, popping back up to his feet and reversing positions in the blink of an eye.
If Velasquez gets on top of Jones, then we would find out if the light heavyweight champion is as well-rounded as many expect. He would have to not only try and work his way back to his feet, but keep from getting the hell beaten out of him in the process.
This is a fight that could announce that Jon Jones is a true threat to the heavyweight title, or send him packing back down to 205 pounds in a hurry.
And we would be sitting on the edge of our seats the entire time.
Chael Sonnen has been taking potshots at so many notable UFC fighters that it's hard to keep count. It’s what he does to keep his name in heavy circulation, and that is why he is beloved by some and hated my many.
And when it comes to being a target for Sonnen in his quest to become more quotable than formidable, not even Georges St-Pierre has escaped his wrath.
Of course, by now we are used to hearing Sonnen rant, and with each loss it becomes less of a premonition of truth and more of a tool to irritate.
And if this bout were signed, Sonnen could irritate GSP to no end.
St-Pierre is a true veteran of the sport, but he can be unsettled by goading, and the verbal attacks Sonnen would aim his way could send him into a tongue-tied fit of rage worthy of the bout's signing.
The fight itself would be pretty great as well, and it would finally answer the question of who is the better wrestler, because there is no question that GSP is the better striker between them.
Sonnen would have the edge in size come fight night as he boasts a larger frame, by far. That said, his power advantage may not be all that decisive considering what he's displayed on the feet.
Ultimately, this takedown battle would be worthy of all the hype Sonnen could invest in it.
We all know Anderson Silva is an unpredictable man, but do we really believe he could resist going toe-to-toe with Nick Diaz in a striking contest?
The very thought makes the mouth water.
We know Diaz would bring it and let his hands fly. It would be the closest thing to a boxing vs. K-1 match the UFC could feature, and in all likelihood, it would be incredible.
We already know that Silva has more power, speed and vastly superior technique, both defensively and offensively.
On the ground, though, the matchup appears even. But this fight wouldn’t be won or lost on the ground: this would be a dog fight in the clouds, for as long as Diaz could keep from getting knocked out.
It might turn out much like Anderson Silva vs. Chris Leben, as Diaz has little to no defensive ability, or it could be something much greater.
Smart money is on Silva by stoppage sometime in Round 2 or 3, but when was the last time we saw him lose a scrap on the feet?
If nothing else, it would be worth it on the off chance Steven Seagal would say something foolish and end up getting smacked by Nick on his way out of the cage.
Of course it had to be on this list.
How could it not be? It’s been talked about and pondered in depth by many since 2010, and we still don’t know if we’re any closer to seeing the fight happen than we’ve ever been.
But it is beginning to become more savory with each month that passes.
GSP is back and is knocking the rust off his blades, and Anderson Silva just keeps getting older.
No matter what anyone says, Silva is not unbeatable, and if he keeps such a lackluster schedule to his fights, he is going to end up growing old overnight and getting a beat-down in one of his fight down the road.
But odds are if he faces GSP, he will be training to make sure he’s the best he’s ever been, and that just so happens to be the best the UFC has ever seen.
Still, as always, styles make fights, and GSP has the takedowns and the power (not to mention the youth) to score multiple takedowns on Silva and win a decision.
That’s if he doesn’t get KO’d on the way in, of course.
This would be one of the biggest, if not the biggest superfight in the sport.
I don't care what anyone says; when it comes to B.J. Penn, there are two incarnations: the welterweight version who is slower and tires easier, and the lightweight version that is an absolute monster.
He lost twice to Frankie Edgar, but that was because Penn didn’t use any kind of game plan and it was a style match that favored Edgar, significantly.
But the lightweight division is ever changing, and Edgar is no longer the champion. In his place is the estimable Benson Henderson, and from a stylistic point of view, a bout between Henderson and Penn could be epic.
Henderson uses a lot of movement like Edgar did, but in different ways. Edgar used angles expertly during boxing exchanges, whereas Henderson usually plants and then delivers—usually with kicks—before circling away to set up his next attack.
At lightweight, Penn could see those kicks coming in time to block or counter most of them with much more success than he had trying to even find Edgar after an exchange.
If Penn were to have two fights at lightweight to get himself readjusted and back to his prime, he would be a nightmare for anyone at 155—Bendo included.
And if he were to go back to school with Randy Couture and actually implement a game plan that worked because of dedicated training, he could be champion yet again.
This would be a damn hard fight for both men, but I think Penn takes it with the proper preparation.
This might not seem like much of a superfight at first glance, but when you consider who these men are, how well they know each other, and their striking styles—well, that seems pretty "super" to me.
To actually see these Brazilian warriors in a cage, stalking each other in their own unique methods would be a sight the UFC has never before seen.
In one corner, you would have perhaps the most accurate and effective striker in the history of MMA against the most effective defensive fighter and counter striker in the sports today. Together, that is a terribly intriguing prospect.
Of course, the chances of this fight happening are exactly nil due to their friendship, but no one can charge us for imagining the scenario.
Given the amount of smack talk both men have been throwing at each other, this is a fight that could easily be built up into a high-profile fight that would draw a lot of views on any PPV card, albeit for all the wrong reasons.
Sonnen would be seriously outgunned in the areas of strength and striking, but the grappling would belong solely to him.
Of course, the real question is: Does Rampage have enough technique, when coupled with his raw strength, to stop Sonnen's takedowns?
If he does, then this could turn into a serious barnburner of a brawl.
It either ends in a vicious KO by Jackson or a decision victory for Sonnen, but it would still be fun to see.
Whether this bout is “super” or not is certainly up for debate, but all the smack talk leading up to the fight would probably push it to such heights, at least to the casual observers.
Cyborg is the only woman out there capable of not only giving Ronda Rousey a run for her money, but actually beating her.
Seeing these dangerous female fighters duke it out would be highly preferable to seeing Rousey replay her greatest hits against a string of women she’s already defeated with ease.
Add to it all that Cyborg has that “Tyson-esque” quality about her, and this could be sold as a massive bout on any UFC card.
For women's MMA, that potential is indeed “super.”
Of course, the basic clash of styles is there, but both women are actually similar in their aggression and self-confidence.
While it can't be definitively proven, there is little doubt that both believe that no other woman on the planet can match them.
This is one headliner that I would put my hard-earned money on the table to see, as long as it was part of a good card.
Just like Anderson Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre, talk of Silva vs. Jones has been going on for quite awhile now.
And given how quickly the star of Jones has risen high into the night sky, it could be the best of the bunch.
What Silva is to striking, Jones is to grappling and takedowns, which makes this the purest clash of styles on the list, and the highest level of representation of said techniques.
As good a wrestler as GSP is, Jones is better overall, especially when it comes to submissions. He does things on the mat that can only be rivaled by what Silva does to the same level of competition on the feet.
This bout would be huge in every sense of the word.
During their introductions, the whole of the MMA universe would go running down the arena aisles (and neighborhood streets) screaming and drooling as if the asylum doors had just swung wide.
Please let this happen.