If Anderson Silva wants to preserve his status as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, he'll do everything in his power to make sure a fight with UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones doesn't happen.
Even though the reigning middleweight champion has a fight this weekend against undefeated 29-year-old Chris Weidman, the idea of Silva taking on Jones has been a prevalent story. After all, it is the biggest fight the UFC could possibly make.
However, for Silva, it's just not worth it.
There's not much argument that Silva is the greatest UFC champion of all time. And the case can and should be made he's the greatest mixed martial artist ever. He holds just about every record that a fighter can hold—longest winning streak (16), most title defenses (10), most finishes in title fights (9), you name it, Silva has accomplished it in the Octagon.
But as they say, records are meant to be broken. Even before Silva has finished his career there's a man that is already on his way to approaching every record that The Spider has set—Jon Jones.
The 25-year-old has emerged as the chief rival to take Silva's title as the greatest of all time. Despite his youth, he's already one of the most accomplished champions in the history of the organization, having defeated Rashad Evans, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Shogun Rua and Vitor Belfort, he already holds wins over just about every big-ticket light heavyweight.
His propensity for finishing fights is already on par with Silva's. After earning decision wins in his first two UFC fights, he has finished everyone but Evans.
So while Jones is only halfway to Silva's record for consecutive title defenses, it appears as though it's only really a matter of time.
Which begs the question, who wins a fight between the two?
If Silva is as shrewd as he's been in his matchmaking to this point of his career, we'll never find out. Because Jones holds almost of all the advantages, a fact that Silva recently admitted when talking to the media about a potential fight with Jones, per Yahoo! Sports.
Of course, one day after admitting that he didn't think he would win if he fought Jon Jones, he changed his tune a bit, telling UFC Tonight that he isn't afraid of Jones, per MMA Junkie:
"My opinion is this: I'll fight Jon Jones, all the guys from my class, all the guys that work in the UFC – all the fighters," Silva said on Tuesday's new edition of "UFC Tonight." "I respect all the fighters. I respect Jon Jones. I respect Chris Weidman, but I'm here for working.
"I'm not scared of Jon Jones, of Chris Weidman or whoever. I'm here to fight. That's it. It's simple."
The sentiment may be true. Silva might not be afraid of Jones, but his admission of likely defeat against the younger Jones rings true.
Right now Silva's accomplishments appear to be just about untouchable. But what happens if/when Jones ends up topping them all?
Then the case for greatest fighter of all time becomes tricky. Like in other sports, such as basketball, where the debate between LeBron James and Michael Jordan is sure to rage on from now until the end of the human race, the mystery of what would happen if the two went head-to-head always fuels the debate.
Should Silva fight Jones and lose, you can throw that out the window. Despite all of the advantages that Jones holds, history will only remember that Jones defeated The Spider in a real fight.
When Jones eventually walks away from the sport, it could be the deciding factor when determining who should be considered the greatest of all time.