The superfight: It’s a term used so often these days that it’s become a novelty.
In theory, it identifies a bout that is designed to bring two fantastic fighters together in a clash that speaks to the best aspects of their relative skills and styles.
In boxing, it has often been used to identify bouts that could never happen: Muhammad Ali vs. Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr., Roberto Duran vs. Manny Pacquiao.
But in the sport of MMA, it is used to describe the dreamlike quality of fights that, while perhaps improbable, are not impossible: Jose Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis, for instance.
Or the previously ballyhooed Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva.
It’s the proverbial “white whale” of the sport. No matter how many times such bouts are rumored, only to fail to be actualized, the term endures because new fighters are always rising to the top. Thus, new fights could answer the question: Who would win if...?
As fighters fight to answer that question, fans and pundits ponder and posit in the absence of these rarest of occurrences. We question and debate who would win in a bout between two fighters that are so good that they remain nearly untouchable by anyone save perhaps another of their untouchable ilk.
No matter what criteria you favor, you know the fights in question, as we all do. While Anderson Silva may no longer have the title, much of the superfight debate has been built upon his name, and that honestly has not changed.
Even though he lost two in a row to Chris Weidman, he is still thought to be the best because great fighters are not the sum total of their defeats. Muhammad Ali lost to Leon Spinks when the latter had just eight professional fights, yet even after their bout, no one doubted Ali would be remembered as the greater fighter.
So, we ponder the obvious inclusions, as we always have; this time, we include them all, in one place and at one time. In fact, we will also include one boxing bout—Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao—simply because it has been debated at length in many MMA discussions, which is no surprise; it is the gold standard for incredible fights that should have been made yet never were.
Proof of this bleeding of boxing into MMA can be found when Lorenzo Fertitta tweeted about the topic of superfights after Pacquiao was put to sleep by Juan Manuel Marquez in their epic fourth bout in 2012.
Oh, the irony that not a single superfight has been made since that fateful night.
Of course, you will notice the absence of one fight on the list—a bout between Ronda Rousey and Mayweather Jr., simply because it will never happen and in truth has never really been addressed with any realism. There seems little merit in talking about it again; there are far too many variables involved to debate the outcome in anything that resembles a concise manner.
And anyone who has read my work before knows just how long-winded I can be without due cause.
Thus, I present to you a list of superfights and predictions of victory, as honestly as I know how. I have no doubt this will not end any debates, nor is it meant to. After all, no one has the last word in the hypothetical.