OK, you got me. This is totally the last entry in the “5 Fights that Must Happen in 2010” series I’ve been working on this past week. I just felt it needed it’s own, even more epic title. That’s because this fight stands apart - argue what you will, but there’s no denying that this is the clear cut #1 fight that MUST happen in 2010.
Do you really have to ask why?
Why does Scorpion fight Sub-Zero? Why does Freddy fight Jason? Why does Bruce Lee fight Chuck Norris? Why does Rocky fight that genetically altered communist boxing machine? Why does Roddy Piper fight his incredibly durable, disbelieving black friend (for the love of God man, put the damn glasses on!)?
To find out who the best is.
The search for the best is perhaps the one singularly defining characteristic that cuts across all forms of sport. It is the reason sports and competition exists, and the reason so many people watch. Even in team sports, singular excellence is looked for and applauded. These athletes are exalted beyond all else, and remembered long after their time. They help to define the sport itself. Hockey has Wayne Gretzky. Basketball has Michael Jordan. Golf has Tiger Woods. NASCAR has Jeff Gordon. And so it goes.
In combat sports, it’s even more true. The entirely self-reliant, one-on-one aspect of the sport means the search for the title “best in the world” is all consuming. It is the reason fighters forsake a normal life, devote themselves to gruelling training 7 days a week, and fight other similarly trained monsters in front of thousands of people - just for a shot at being called “the best”.
We remember their names - Muhammed Ali, Mike Tyson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis - long after their careers are over. They are giants, legends, the ultimate incarnations of the larger-then-life giant that you Do. Not. [sic]. With.
In decades past, it is the world of boxing that has provided the hallowed “best fighter in the world”. But boxing has been in a serious decline the last 10 years, owning to insane fighter salaries, widespread corruption, and the creation of so many sanctioning bodies that fans have a hard time determining who is the champion of what. Since Lennox Lewis (arguably since Mike Tyson) left the ranks of boxing elite, they really haven’t been able to crown a successor that is either interesting or legitimate.
With the collapse of the Mayweather/Pacquiao super fight earlier this year, the sport of boxing seems to have forsaken it’s last chance to establish a legitimate P4P best in the sport - and the prospects for that fight ever happening aren’t looking good.
As seems to be the trend over the last few years, it’s time to pass the torch from boxing to MMA.
Now, before all you boxing purists out there flood my inbox with hate mail, let me clear. I don’t “have it out” for the sport of boxing just because I am an MMA fan. I’m a big fan of boxing too - hell, of all combat sports - and I don’t go for all that “Boxing vs. MMA” crap. To my mind, there’s plenty of room for both sports, and they don’t draw entirely from the same crowd anyways. More fights = better seems like a foolproof equation to me.
But you can’t deny that the sport of boxing is in a serious rut right now, and it’s only getting worse. Until they sort out their promotional issues and restore a little integrity to the sport, they will not capture the national interest and imagination they way they did for so long.
Increasingly, that role is being filled by MMA.
Don’t believe me? Ask the average guy who the Heavyweight champion of the world is - chances are your going to get Brock Lesnar or (God-willing) Fedor Emelianenko instead of whichever Klitchko brother has the belt this week. In the same vein, it’s time for MMA to step up, fill the void left by boxing, and crown an undisputed, #1 P4P best fighter in the world.
And the only way to do that is to pit Anderson Silva against Georges St. Pierre - easily be the biggest and most lucrative fight in UFC history.
For the insane amount of hype this hypothetical fight already has, there are some fans who don’t want to see it happen. It’s a mismatch, they say. Anderson Silva already is the #1 P4P fighter in the world, dominating opponents at two different weight classes. What would GSP, champion in a lighter weight class, have to offer him?
Ok, so Anderson Silva is Morpheus - we already know this. He dodges your punches with mechanical ease then puts your lights out. In 11 UFC fights against some of the best in the world, he has yet to be seriously challenged. Forrest Griffin was embarrassed. James Irvin hasn't been heard from since. Rich Franklin probably suffers from some sort of PTSD. The list goes on.
But he’s not superman, folks - and we have seen things resembling holes in his game.
Plus, Georges St. Pierre has been on an absolute tear recently, defeating arguably better competition then Silva has faced in either weight class. In 6 trips to the cage, he’s faced 6 top 10 ranked welterweights. 3 current or former world champions. 3 men ranked top 10 P4P in the world. In short, some of the very best this sport has to offer. No James Irvin’s or Thales Leites’s on that list.
Plus, every indication is that he’s getting better - and bigger, too. His trainer has described him as “scary”. He has even invited Gegard Mousasi to train with him in recent weeks in order to prepare for Dan Hardy - whoa, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
My point is that GSP is clearly angling for a move up to middleweight at some point in the near future. Given proper time to bulk up and adjust to the added weight, I think he could be quite successful there. Still sceptical? Check out this video of St. Pierre sparring grappling with Nate Marquardt - if he can hold his own in that department with the sturdy Marquardt, I think his chances with the rest of the division are more then fair.
There is talk of this fight happening at a catch weight, which hopefully is nonsense. I mean c’mon - do we want to see an emaciated, dehydrated Silva fight GSP over three rounds instead of five? And what if loses? Doesn’t dropping a fights to a smaller opponent at a catch weight basically de-legitimize his title at 185?
Once Nate Marquardt gets his title fight (and assuming Silva comes out the winner in it) expect to see GSP move up and take his shot in the biggest fight in MMA history. Doesn’t matter what your definition of “Pound-for-Pound Best” is, the winner of this fight must certainly be it. Period. End of story.
This fight must get made exactly because MMA is the sport where fights like that get made - right now, when both men are in their primes, not years after the fact - and it would create interest and specacle on a whole new level for the sport of MMA.
Now just book it in Toronto (once the sport becomes regulated here, that is), say at the Rogers Center, and let me watch it live with 75,000 fellow drunken Canadians.
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